It has been a rough week. I am a little rattled about what I have been through. I have been living a very sheltered life. I want to pass along what I have learned this week.
I am not sure if this is just a Colorado thing or nation wide but I have spent my last week learning something that I never knew existed. I thought I would pass this story along so others would be aware and maybe, just maybe, there is someone out there who knows a politician who can fix this hole in the system.
So In August of 2016 I traded in a 93 pickup and got a 2013 pickup. Signed over the title, put the old plates on the new truck, after I registered it ,and went about my life.
Last week I got a letter in the mail from the city of Lakewood, saying that I had to appear in court because I had not paid my parking ticket for expired plates. I had no idea what they were talking about. I had not gotten a ticket, all of my vehicles were up to date on plates, and we don't ever go to Lakewood.
I spent all day Tuesday calling the city, the county, the state, Dept. of Motor Vehicle people , police and the Lakewood city attorneys. Some people I talked to were extremely rude, I was guilty, they couldn't tell me anything. But out of the dozens of folks I talked to there were a few who helped me figure out what was going on.
Apparently the dealer had sold the truck to an auction house who then sold the truck to someone, that person had gotten a temporary license plate or "tag", (this tag number was written on "my" ticket.) and then let it expire. A motorcycle officer saw the truck and issued the ticket . His handheld machine showed the new owners name attached to the plates but my name attached to the VIN.(vehicle identification number) He used my name and put the ticket on the truck. I never got that ticket, I assume the new owner threw it away? So the ticket was not paid, I get the summons to appear in court.
Yesterday I drive a half an hour to the court house, ran the paramilitary gauntlet , talk to a city attorney who must interact with all sorts of scum, and assumed I was too. I convinced him that someone else should be in court and he dismissed my court date. On the way out, I talked with one last , very kind and professional officer, from behind a bullet prove glass, to see if the other person would be summoned to court. He said his computer showed that that person had gotten another temp plate so was within the law and that my name was still on the VIN !! I asked him how I was supposed to get my name off of a truck that I had not owned in over 6 months and had no title for. He said that that would only happen when the new owner paid the taxes and got it registered in their name! This is common, in fact one attorney said that she dealt with this every day.
So here is the deal, pay attention because this could happen to you ! A person could literally "buy" your old vehicle, commit murder, rob a bank, ditch the car and disappear and the swat team would raid your house in the middle of the night , drag you out, (if they didn't shoot you first, because after all you are guilty until proven innocent,) all because your name is still attached to that cars VIN. One DMV guy told me the only way to avoid this possibility was to have the car crushed so that it could never be driven again !!
The law needs to change such that when you trade in or sell a car, your name is taken off of the VIN. The dealer should take your title and "ownership" by putting their name on the VIN. Anybody out there know of a politician that might take this issue on?