California DMV Loophole Allowed Jobs to Drive Sans-Plates

| News

Following the death of Steve Jobs in early October, there has been much reflection and speculation about the life of the man who lived, quite paradoxically, both a very public and simultaneously private life. One rather perplexing topic of discussion was the iconic Apple cofounder’s Mercedes-Benz SL 55 AMG, which surprisingly was absent a license plate. New information from a former Apple Security employee reveals that Steve Jobs relied on a loophole in California law to get away with it.

Steve's Mercedes
Steve’s Mercedes-Benz SL 55 AMG, without a license plate.


Although this story was initially discussed in 2008, Mr. Jobs’s passing renewed the discussion and mystery. While acting in a seemingly clear violation of California law, Steve nonetheless managed to avoid plate-related fines during his four-year ownership of the vehicle. 

Initial speculation suggested that privacy was the impetus in Steve’s decision to drive sans-plate, and Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak suggested in a recent interview that Mr. Jobs held a special permit allowing him this privilege. This assertion by Mr. Wozniak, however, conflicted with other reports of the missing license plate, which could find no California law allowing civilians to permanently drive without plates. 

Now comes an update from iTWire, which spoke with Jon Callas, a former senior security officer with Apple and now CTO of Entrust, an online security solutions company. According to him, Mr. Jobs relied on a loophole in California law: the owner of a brand new vehicle has a maximum of six months to obtain and affix a license plate.  

Apple’s then-CEO, for security and/or aesthetic reasons, made an arrangement with his Mercedes leasing company in which he would exchange cars every six months; trading for an identical Mercedes each time. As iTWire puts it: “At no time would he ever be in a car as old as six months; and thus there was no legal requirement to have the number plates fitted.”

Even after his passing, Mr. Jobs is showing us how he “thought differently,” and perhaps has inspired a number of Californians to take advantage of this “loophole.” California may need to update its DMV regulations soon.

Sign Up for the Newsletter

Join the TMO Express Daily Newsletter to get the latest Mac headlines in your e-mail every weekday.

24 Comments Leave Your Own

Agee

Hmmm! I like the ‘thought differently’ phrasing.

MyRightEye

Steve Jobs is, was :( a lot more libertarian than a Leftist as people make him out to be.

ibuck

MyRightEye said: a lot more libertarian than a Leftist as people make him out to be.

Demonstrating that Steve couldn’t be reduced to a “one of them.” Like many people, as complex beings, can’t. One can have views in one area that are judged to be conservative, while simultaneously holding other views considered liberal.

Like the watermelon-smashing comedian Gallagher said, it’s about “being an individual.”

mhikl

Steve Jobs is, was a lot more libertarian than a Leftist as people make him out to be.

Now would that be a Libertarian of the anarchism strain or Libertarian of the far right strain. I don?t see SJ as a far right kind of guy but he did at times have a touch of antiauthoritarianism about him. He was a conundrum kind of dude, nonetheless.

Dave Hamilton

THere’s some specific discussion about this in the new book, and Jobs sorta laughs it off saying it’s just his way of bucking authority. I think the end of the piece on it has Jobs saying he didn’t have a license plate because he didn’t have one. smile

Dave Hamilton

Oh, now here’s a funny thing: I believe Scott Forstall drives that *exact* same car (color and all). After reading this article I’m beginning to think that he might have bought one of Steve’s 6-monthers. wink

geoduck

Ok, I get the whole rebelling against authority thing. It’s just that, well, it seems like a heck of a lot of trouble to go through. I mean, really a license plate isn’t that big a deal.

d'monder

Wonder how many times Steve got stopped for it.  And how he managed to stay out of jail. smile

We all can imagine the scenario: the hot-headed new cop in town, pulling Steve over on a bad day.  “Don’t you lecture ME about the law!  Step out of the car, sir…”.

Lee Dronick

Having been here since 1970 I consider myself a Californian, but this is the first time I heard about this happening. I am pretty sure even though he didn’t have plates on the car he still had to pay the registration. Every six months he paid for registration, I thank him for adding to the State coffers.

“Do you have a description of the vehicle?”

Yes it was a 2011 silver Mercedes-Benz SL 55

“Did you get the license plate number?

No, it didn’t have any on either the front or the back.

“Thank you for being a good citizen. There can’t be too many vehicles out there fitting that description, we should find him soon.”

You have a great afternoon officer.

dude

Most states force you to attach some sort of paper showing that you have just bought the car with an expiration date.  These typically only last 30 days, not 6 months.

Not many of us could copy the idea anyway, who can afford a new car every 6 months?

1stplacemacuser

So what did he do with the black Porsche?

geoduck

So what did he do with the black Porsche?

DIBS!!!

ChipsNDip

No way the car was new every time or else he would be driving a SL 63 as the SL55 is old news and they stopped making it 2 years ago.

Hagen

No way the car was new every time or else he would be driving a SL 63 as the SL55 is old news and they stopped making it 2 years ago.

That would fit for the timeframe of the cars:  2007-2009.

Lee Dronick

No way the car was new every time or else he would be driving a SL 63 as the SL55 is old news and they stopped making it 2 years ago.

Perhaps it doesn’t have to be new to be a new car. Steve, Scott, and some others may have been swapping lease vehicles every six months. Whatever, it is a fun story.

1stplacemacuser

Steve could have bought 20 of them and held them at the dealership and picked up a new one every six months.

xmattingly

Steve Jobs is, was a lot more libertarian than a Leftist as people make him out to be.

Libertarianism is inherently anti-establishment, so yeah - I’d say that Jobs was at least philosophically more Libertarian than anything else.

He may have been identified as Democrat, but realistically speaking, he was really a classical liberal, rather than a “liberal” that would identify with the modern day Democrat party.

Engineer

Now would that be a Libertarian of the anarchism strain or Libertarian of the far right strain. I

There is no difference.

A libertarian is someone who believes:  “The initiation of force is immoral”.

Nothing more, nothing less.  This means they are often called anarchists, or “far right” or “wing nuts” or whatever those who want to do violence or threaten violence against innocent people feel the need to call them.

Steve Jobs was a libertarian of the moral strain.

Dose of Truth

Funny, how a great man passes away and people (in this case, Libertarians) try to claim him for their own.

Here’s the truth, Steve Jobs was a big contributor to Obama, Jerry Brown, Nancy Pelosi, Ted Kennedy, and Democrats in general. With a list like that Libertarian isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. Make no mistake, he’s firmly part of the Democratic establishment. I mean he was friends with Al freaking Gore who Steve hooked up with a position at Apple. Those are the facts.

http://www.newsmeat.com/billionaire_political_donations/Steve_Jobs.php

Steve No Plates Mercedes

Geeks are so gullible for gossip on Steve Jobs, Mercedes with no plates.  The latest stories you read are false.
I thought what was the production years of the infamous Steve Jobs SL55 AMG.  It was made up until 2008, and the 2008 was the model year that he drove for years without the license plates.  Steve was rich, but not totally foolish, he wouldn?t piss away the drive off depreciation cost of a $130K+ car every six months. 
Geeks are so gullible.
——————————————————————————
The SL55 AMG was sold through AMG in the R129 body style from 1998 to 2001 in limited quantity. It was the predecessor of the production R230 SL55 AMG sold from 2002 to 2008.

cb50dc

Steve Jobs was a big contributor to Obama, Jerry Brown, Nancy Pelosi, Ted Kennedy, and Democrats in general. With a list like that Libertarian isn?t the first thing that comes to mind.

IF Steve would have expressly agreed with all the Libertarian-labelling in this thread (and I emphasize that “if”), I suspect he’d still likely have supported candidates like these. He seems pragmatic enough to know that (1) most officially Libertarian candidates simply don’t yet have enough of a chance at winning on a national level, and (2) the Dems, compared to Repubs, without question stand much closer to his larger worldview and on most specific issues.

As for having no plates, it just strikes me more as a smirking little “nyah nyah” than any hardcore “stickin’ it to da man.”

mhikl

There is no difference.

A libertarian is someone who believes:? ?The initiation of force is immoral?.

There are always differences, Engineer. I don?t see far right ?Libertarians? thinking like Chomsky.

Following Dose of Truth: Safer to stick with Anarchist. Libertarianism began as a clean-up of a name appointed as negative and has been kidnapped by the unsavoury.

xmattingly

Funny how anonymous tools can quote “facts”, while blatantly leaving out the most important ones. Are we not aware that Obama arranged to meet Jobs not long ago, at which point Steve told him point blank that he’s going to be a one-term president? He specifically sited the problem with too much regulation (which is historically an issue with Big Government DemocRats), and the inability to open factories in the U.S. in a timely manner. Are you following along? Steve Jobs told our Democrat POTUS that he cannot create more jobs in the U.S. because of restrictive lefty policy. Excuse me, what in the context of this meeting points to Jobs being purely a Democrat party supporter? Sorry bubby, but deregulation is a common Libertarian view, not a Democrat’s. And THAT is the truth.

I agree with cbsofla that Jobs would not want to be labeled Libertarian. He was after all, anti-establishment. BUT. If you really believe Libertarians have no real political weight, I invite you to tally up how much changeover happened in Congress last November.

In any event, it’s been often said that you cannot sum up Steve Jobs in a couple of sentences, and that is certainly true of his political views. Sure he was a Democrat party supporter, but I stand by my original comment that philosophically, he was closer to Libertarian.

Trent Goodbaudy

Lots of people have had it with government regulations! There are many who travel without license or registration. Look at freedomfromgovernment.us to see what I am talking about.

Log-in to comment