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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Business Law
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Experience:  All corporate law, including non-profits and charitable fraternal organizations.
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Legal/car question My husband and I bought a used car from

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Legal/car question: My husband and I bought a used car from a friend for $500. At the time we bought it, the car was registered as non-operational, although that registration has since lapsed. My husband handled the logistics of the transaction, so it wasn't until after he had paid for the car and driven it home that I learned the seller did not have the original title. She had to request a replacement title from the state where she originally bought the car (Missouri, I believe). My husband and I had agreed to put the title in both our names once the seller received it in the mail. However, this took a number of weeks, and my husband accrued about four parking tickets in the intervening time. When the seller finally received the title, he went behind my back and filled out the buyer's section in his name only. The seller made photocopies and mailed the original title back to the Missouri DMV. However, despite going to so much trouble to be the only owner, my husband suddenly decided to leave both the car and the country about a week later. I contacted the seller, who gave me a copy of the title. She then contacted the Missouri DMV and asked them to mail back the original title she had just sent them, which was at that time still en route. The idea was for me to add my name to it so it could finally be registered and insured. However, while waiting for the title, I too have gotten numerous parking tickets. Combined with the tickets my husband got, they now easily exceed the value of the car. My question is: Who is legally responsible for all the parking tickets?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Business Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 3 years ago.
Unless you had a separate property regime already established, because California is a community property state, as his spouse you own an undivided one half interest in the car even if your name is XXXXX XXXXX the title and as such you can be also held liable for the parking tickets if they ever locate you and pursue you. If they are sending them to him in his name, then it would be his license suspended, even though technically as a community property debt you could be held equally liable.


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Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 88441
Experience: All corporate law, including non-profits and charitable fraternal organizations.
Law Educator, Esq. and other Business Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

As far as I know, no one has received these tickets yet. They would not have been sent to my husband's and my address, because the car was never registered to either of us in California. The car was last registered in California to the seller. However, the registration was non-operational and it expired at the end of July.

Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 3 years ago.
Technically, under the law both of you are liable and if they end up suspending the seller's license and they prove to DMV that they sold the vehicle before the date of the tickets being issued, then they can come to the purchaser for the payments of the tickets and as it is community property both you and the husband would be liable. But the fact is that you are dealing with CA DMV and they are not the most competent of agencies
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 88441
Experience: All corporate law, including non-profits and charitable fraternal organizations.
Law Educator, Esq. and other Business Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

This seems to be true what you say about the CA DMV. The car has a Missouri title and a (expired) California registration. The seller says she did not have the title when she originally registered the car in California. She says she "had a registration paper and that's it." The California DMV seems to think this is not possible, because they require an original title to register a car. But it is true that the original title is still a Missouri title and that the car has been registered in CA under her name from 1998, when she first moved here, until July of 2010, when it expired.

Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 3 years ago.
CA DMV was the basis for all of the jokes and horror stories about DMV's across the entire country. They could come after her for the parking tickets and then she would have to prove she sold the car before the tickets were issued and they would require her to provide the name of the party she sold it to and they would pursue that party. If it is only your husband, then he would be the one they would go after unless they figure out you were married and then they would try to make it a community debt.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 88441
Experience: All corporate law, including non-profits and charitable fraternal organizations.
Law Educator, Esq. and other Business Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Wouldn't she receive these tickets in the mail if they were going to pursue her for them?

Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 3 years ago.
Again, remember who you are dealing with here, many times they simply send a suspension notice (sometimes years after the fact) on these types of cases. There is no predicting how they will operate, but generally they do not send her the tickets or anything other than either the collection or the license suspension notice and they are not required by law to do so.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Are parking tickets not subject to due process?

Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 3 years ago.
Parking tickets are considered administrative violations, so they handle them differently. When a parking ticket is issued, that is considered the "notice" and the failure to respond to that notice is considered waiver of your right to a hearing. It is not like a criminal violation.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Is the notice what they leave on the windshield or what follows it in the mail?
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 3 years ago.
Notice is the one that is left on the windshield, they are not required to mail anything.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Thank you.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 3 years ago.
Thank you.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
I know it's kind of silly to whine about this here, but parking ticket laws seem more than a little self-serving and unfair. It was my impression that bench warrants can be issued for outstanding parking violations. Is this true? And if so, how is it possible that you can be arrested for something and then have to prove your innocence for it?
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 3 years ago.
You and millions of others have the same complaint. Parking enforcement is an administrative function of government and is mainly for revenue raising. Bench warrants can be issued for unpaid violations (when you get a sufficient number of them) but they are still considered administrative violations and not criminal violations.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Before I cry "unconstitutional!" I just want to clarify one thing: are the bench warrants issued for the unpaid tickets themselves, or for the "failure to appear" when you ignore them?
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 3 years ago.
There is a fine line but it is for the failure to appear and either pay them or contest them. There is no jail sentence for a parking ticket itself. Again, parking tickets are an administrative violation, the failure to appear is a contempt of court type charge that can result in arrest.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Hmm. Can I contest the tickets on the grounds that they are unconstitutional? Or, failing that, can I at least sue the government in federal court for violating my fourth amendment protections against unreasonable seizure of property?
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 3 years ago.
You would be traveling a road many others before you have tried and lost AND the cost of such litigation would be far more than the cost of the tickets. This type of litigation can cost upwards of $50,000 and on these types of tickets is pretty much fruitless because the courts have approved of this process.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
I figured as much. Just out of curiousity (since it's a losing battle anyway, and I would like to express my outrage personally), about how much could I expect to save by representing myself in such a case? Also, wouldn't it be possible to introduce a ballot initiative on this issue? I can't imagine "the people" giving the thumbs-up to such a petty, inconvenient revenue builder, but who knows.

Also, as I was rereading your answers, I realized I overlooked something. I did try to register the car right after my husband took off, but was told that only the owner (the person whose name appears on the title) can do so. Why is it that community property laws don't allow me to register a car which legally I co-own with my husband, but do make me responsible for debt incurred from parking it illegally? My guess is that it would be possible to register it under my name, but that I would first have to establish ownership through some separate legal process costing more than the vehicle is worth.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 3 years ago.
You could try to represent yourself, but trying to pursue a constitutional claim without having experiences in legal research (even when you have a case with a good chance of success) is a losing proposition. The cost would be less than an attorney, but still likely much more than the cost of the tickets. You can indeed try to garner support for a ballot issue on this matter if you want to take the time involved to get signatures required and raise the money it takes to get the word out. The reason you couldn't register the car even as community property is that it requires your name to be on the bill of sale and his signature to the title as well as yours. Your guess is right, you have to prove it was a community property purchase before they will allow you to register it in both names.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX very helpful. Can the seller do anything right now to protect herself from liability, in case the state decides to pursue her for these tickets at some point in the future? Is there anything I can do to help her? It seems like there must be a way to "divorce" yourself from a car, regardless of whether the new owner ever registers it? 
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 3 years ago.
The only thing the seller could have done was submitted the new title herself. At this point if they try to come after her then she can provide proof of the date of the sale and the information on the new owner and she could sue the new owned for the tickets if they force her to still pay them.

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