Steve Jobs was no stranger to thinking outside the box. Even during his youthful college years, he partnered with engineer (and future Apple co-founder) Steve Wozniak to sell phone hacking tools called “blue boxes” to his fellow college-goers. It should be no surprise that he managed to find a loophole in California law that allowed him to drive his leased Mercedes, without a license plate, for years.
To summarize the deal made with the leaser, Steve Jobs would lease an identical Mercedes Benz every six months, allowing him to avoid the legal ramifications of not having a displayed license plate.
Here’s the rub: there’s a lot of misinformation circling this story related to California laws that weren’t specifically named in the initial news story. For one, some are quick to recite VC Section 4456, which relates to the terms in which vehicle sales and registrations must be made after a new or used automobile is sold in California. The actual loophole Steve Jobs worked around is in regard to a six-month period in which the owner has to display an official license place after that registration takes place based on when they receive the plates.
Because the vast majority of the photos taken of Steve Jobs’ car without plates are taken from the back, it’s only logical to assume that he had the required temporary tags present in the front passenger area of the windshield in order to meet the minimum requirements for the period between purchase (or pickup) and the receipt of the official registration plates.
According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles:
How long is the Purchaser’s Temporary Operating Copy valid?
The permit the dealer provides for display on the passenger side of the front window is valid until the plates and stickers are received by the customer, or for six months from the sale date, whichever comes first.
This loophole may or may not still exist or be legal to exploit knowingly, and there are plenty of laws and regulations surrounding the various aspects of car registration in California to consider. We here at LockerGnome do not dispense legal advice or information, and we neither condone nor approve of any action that may be considered unlawful in your country, state, or city.