Parking Tickets on a Sold Car

When you sell a car, no matter how old it is, always keep the paperwork involved in the sale. Take it from me, it’s worth keeping the paperwork.  You may think you’ll never need again but keep it anyway. Having proof on hand can save you time and annoyance when you start receiving tickets and parking violations on a car you no longer own.

Car Selling Tale of Woe

I had an old car that had been sitting in the garage for months. It started leaking something (not sure what). Rather than fix it and continue to pay insurance on it, I decided to either sell or donate it. It’s never been in an accident, runs well, but needed some TLC. I had all of the original manuals and spreadsheet of all maintenance performed since purchasing the car.

2007 Ford

I put an ad on Craigslist with several photos and listed the known problems with the car. The ad immediately got an interested buyer. The buyer was a mechanic so I thought it was fate. The buyer came by, looked at the car, negotiated the price and decided to buy it. I signed over the title and he drove off on his merry way. The next morning I trotted over to the DMV to surrender the license plates and the deal was complete, or so I thought.

Tickets on a Car I No Longer Own

Several months later I get a letter from the City of New York Department of Finance informing me of a parking ticket and license plate violation on the formerly owned car. They also wanted me to immediately pay $130! What? I no longer own the car. What gives? I’m not paying parking tickets on a sold car.

NYC Dept of Finance

It had been two months since the car sale and figured I no longer needed the associated paperwork so I tossed it out. That was my second mistake. The first mistake was forgetting to remove the registration and inspection stickers from the windshield.

DMV Plate Surrender Receipt

To dispute the parking tickets I needed a copy of my plate surrender receipts and the name/address of the purchaser. I was able to get a duplicate receipt for surrendering the plates from the DMV, but I didn’t have the full name of the new owner. Fortunately, however, I did save the thread of text messages I had with the buyer regarding the sale of the car.

I wrote a letter to the NYC Department of Finance and enclosed a copy of the DMV receipt along with printed copies of the text conversation I had with the buyer. In the letter, I explained that I didn’t have the full name and address of the new owner, but I did have his first name, phone number and proof of his intent to purchase the car. I also admitted that my mistake was not removing the registration and inspection stickers from the windshield.

NYS License Plate

Parking Ticket Situation Resolved

About a month later I received two letters in the mail (there were two violations). Each letter stated that I was not guilty and that I was not responsible for the $130 in fines. Whew! You can bet that I’m saving those letters!

Parking Violation Lessons Learned

  1. Get the full name and address of the person purchasing the vehicle.
  2. Remove all stickers from the windshield.
  3. Keep a copy of the DMV license plate surrender form.
  4. Print a copy of any text or email conversation regarding the sale of the vehicle. If you don’t want to keep paper copies of the transaction, keep electronic copies.
  5. Surrender the plates as soon as possible. If the new owner got into an accident on the way home before re-registering the vehicle and you had not surrendered the plates to the DMV yet…guess what? There’s a possibility that you’ll get dragged into the fray. The best possible situation is to transfer vehicle ownership at the Department of Motor Vehicles. This way the new owner can register the car while you surrender the plates.

About the author: Felicia A. Williams is a former insurance broker who is now a freelance writer.

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