Guy bought my car, I get his tickets. What gives?
November 25, 2006 12:44 PM   Subscribe

The guy I sold my car to is getting parking tickets, not paying them, and the notices are coming to me -- and I really need to keep my record clean in order to pass the Bar exam.

I sold my California-registered car to another person in California in late August of this year. It was a private party sale, so I signed the back of the title, so did the new guy, and I left it with him to send in to the DMV (this is the procedure I followed when I bought the car, fwiw).

Just a few days ago, a friend of mine who now lives at my former address found that an unpaid parking ticket notice had been sent to me for a ticket incurred on September 3 -- at least a week, and I think more like 2, after I finalized the sale.

Obviously I would rather not pay this ticket, and I will follow up with whatever official department I need to via web or phone at the beginning of this upcoming week. But my real concern is that I'm planning to take the California bar in July -- and I can't have some guy running around getting parking tickets and god knows what else in my name in the meantime. What else should I do to follow up on this? How can I prove I no longer own a car when it was a private party sale and I left the title with the new owner? I'm sure the Character & Fitness committee would not hold this against me once it was explained, but I'm doing all my registration from across the country so I'd rather avoid even the long-winded explanation if possible. How do I make really really sure this guy has switched the title and is no longer doing anything bad under my name?
posted by rkent to Law & Government (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
On the parking ticket notice, it should include instructions on what to do if you no longer own the car. Follow those instructions.

When you sold the car, you should have filled out and mailed to the DMV this form (pdf link). If you didn't do that, do it now.

(I went through the same thing a few months ago. Guy who bought my car started getting parking tickets and didn't bother doing the title transfer himself. It was a nice reminder to me to send the transfer form in.)

And good luck on the bar exam.
posted by JekPorkins at 12:52 PM on November 25, 2006

I wonder if you left your license plates on the car. If you did that was a huge mistake. I always remove the tags. Did you notify the DMV of the sale? Did you cancel the license plates? Or did you transfer the plates from the car you sold to your vehicle?
I am guessing that they buyer has never recorded the sale. Make a trip to the DMV to find out.
Even if you pay the fine it will be on your record until that title is transferred.
And see the link for the DMV form in JekPorkins post
posted by JayRwv at 12:56 PM on November 25, 2006

In California, you don't take the license plates off the car when you sell it, if I remember correctly. Obviously, don't take what I write as the last word, though.
posted by JekPorkins at 1:08 PM on November 25, 2006

License plates stay with the car in California. You should of notified the DMV with the appropriate form (listed above). Even if you did, I had the same problem with the Huntington Beach parking office sending me the new owner's citations on my old vehicle. In fact, they were sending them to my old address too which lead me to believe they simply consulted an older copy of the DMV database. Perhaps this is occurring in your case too? When I replied showing documentation that I am no longer responsible for the vehicle, I never heard from them again.
posted by dendrite at 1:16 PM on November 25, 2006

Response by poster: JayRwv: I wonder if you left your license plates on the car. If you did that was a huge mistake.

That's the way it works in California; you leave the plates on. as per JekPorkins's suggestion, I may need to fill out and mail some additional forms to make the sale official on my end. I'll look into that.
posted by rkent at 1:19 PM on November 25, 2006

Response by poster: On further failure to preview, I can't find the guy's address anywhere, which will complicate filling out some of these forms.

I broke down/freaked out and bought a carfax report, and there was a new owner reported on 9/13 of this year so at least there shouldn't be a lot of this going forward.

Thanks for all the advice so far.
posted by rkent at 1:26 PM on November 25, 2006

If you're a AAA member, go to the nearest AAA office and tell them the problem. They can do pretty much all of the DMV's services there, and you won't have to wait in line (usually). Alternatively, make an appointment and go to the DMV (appointments are the best thing about the CA DMV).

The fact that you don't have the new owner's name & address probably doesn't matter.

The fact that carfax shows that there's a new owner probably does not mean that you won't have more problems.
posted by JekPorkins at 1:35 PM on November 25, 2006

This happened to us & I went to the online dmv place & just printed a copy of the transfer, & a copy of the receipt from the charity we had take the old vehicle off our hands, and sent it all & a letter saying "I no longer own this car, I am not responsible for this debt, please confirm in writing this understanding for my records. Thanks." And I sent it via registered mail with a signature required. It seems to be a fairly common occurrence & if you send the right paperwork, all the ticketing places I encountered were "ok, thanks, sorry to bother you."

Bit of a pain in the ass, but easy enough to do... Good luck.
posted by susanbeeswax at 2:35 PM on November 25, 2006

Do you have a "Bill of Sale"? In my case I brought "Bill of Sale" to the ticket collection agency to prove I had sold the car before the date on the parking tickets.
posted by JujuB at 7:51 PM on November 25, 2006

I had two convictions of Driving While Ability Impaired and had no trouble at all taking the Bar Exam in two different states.

Be diligent in taking care of the automobile situation. But do not spend one moment of your time or one ounce of your energy worrying that this is going to have any impact whatsoever on whether or not you are allowed to take the Bar Exam.
posted by flarbuse at 8:40 PM on November 25, 2006

I think that if you can't fix this legal problem yourself, you might have problems with the bar exam!
posted by wilful at 8:46 PM on November 26, 2006

Good lord, rkent, fill out that reg138 form ASAP. If this guy runs someone over and flees the scene, parking tickets are going to be the least of your worries - unless you've filed the form.

Until then, you can be found liable for whatever that car does. Proof of sale might get you off, but filling this form out ahead of time is much, much better.
posted by ikkyu2 at 10:30 PM on November 26, 2006

Response by poster: The fact that you don't have the new owner's name & address probably doesn't matter.

Late update, in case anyone else finds this thread useful: indeed the forms can be filled out with "unknown" in any field, and (apparently) the liability release will still apply. So here I go; thanks all.

wilful: tee hee. Hopefully there's no section on "correcting possible fraud in automotive sales." I'll be sure to ask about it at BarBri.
posted by rkent at 9:35 AM on November 27, 2006

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