How to Serve an Out-of-State Motorist

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If you are involved in a vehicle accident on a California public road with an out-of-state driver (who is also the owner of the vehicle) you may sue the driver/owner in a California court no matter where they live.  In this case, papers must be served Opens new window on both the out-of-state defendant and the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

1. First serve the Director of California's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) by having your server (not you) mail a copy of the claim by certified or registered mail, addressee only, return receipt requested, to:

Department of Motor Vehicles
Office of the Director
2415 First Avenue
Mail Station F 101
Sacramento, CA 95818

Include a fee of $2.00 for each defendant to be served. Make a check or money order out to Department of Motor Vehicles. Do not send cash.

Once the Director of DMV’s office is served, you will receive a letter from the DMV confirming service and the signed certified mail receipt. 

  • Make as many copies of the letter and the receipt as there are defendants, plus one more for your file. 
  • The signed certified mail receipt is your proof that you served the Director of DMV.

2. After serving the director, your server may serve the out-of-state driver and/or owner with:

1. A copy of the filed Plaintiff’s Claim (Form SC-100)
2. A copy of the letter from DMV and signed certified mail receipt.

Your server may serve the out-of-state defendant: by personal service or by registered mail (addressee only, return receipt requested).

For personal service
Have your server complete and sign a separate:

  • Proof of Service (Form SC-104) Opens new window, showing that they served the defendant.

For service by registered mail
Have your server complete and sign a separate:

  • Proof of Service (Form POS-010) Opens new window, showing that they served the defendant. 

Your server is to fill out Form POS-010 entirely. The following areas of the form may not be clear, therefore have your server: 

  • in No. 2, check box ‘f’, and write “Plaintiff’s Claim and Order to Go to Small Claims Court” and “Copy of California Dept. of Motor Vehicle’s letter confirming service.” 
  • in No. 3, put the defendant’s name 
  • in No. 4, put the defendant’s address 
  • in No. 5 -C, fill in No. (1) and No. (2), and check box No. (4)

Make a copy of this Proof of Service form for your file.

 3. File Opens new window these papers with the court:

  1. the original signed receipt of mailing to the Director of DMV 
  2. the original of the letter from the DMV, if any, 
  3. the return mail receipt from the defendant (if mailed).and, 
  4. the original Proof of Service -- either Form SC-104 (if by personal service) or Form POS-010 (if by registered mail)





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