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    Sold Car, No Proof Sale, New Owner Racking Up Tickets- What Do We Do?

    My jurisdiction is: Seattle, Washington

    When my husband sold our car (on May 9) he made a huge blunder and didn't keep the Bill of Sale portion of the title. We received notices on two unpaid tickets for illegal license (I think expired tabs) in the mail; the original tickets were from May 12 &16th, so after we sold the car. My husband called the DMV and the new owner never registered the car so it is still legally ours.

    The problem is that my husband spoke with the DMV and if we can't turn in a form with the name and address of the new owner then our only other option is to hire a civil lawyer. The only contact info we had was a phone number but that number is no longer in service. We can't afford a civil lawyer and the only proof of sale we can offer is the Craigslist ad which my husband took down the day it was sold, which CL has on record, and a friend who was at our house when the guy bought the car and who is willing to testify that we sold it.

    What can we do? Can we legally register the car as stolen? It's no longer on insurance and we don't care about getting the value of the car, just getting it back so we can sell it right this time. If the cops try to take the car the "new owner" can't prove he owns it unless he admits to the wrongdoing of not registering it in his name, which in turn would make him liable to us for the tickets we paid that incurred when the car was in his possession.

    This is a very painful way to learn to NEVER trust someone to turn in the sale receipt, and to always do it ourselves, but at this point we just need to stop the bleeding and not let the thief keep racking up tickets.



    Thank you for your help!

  2. thelawprofessor's Avatar
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    This is a good question. What about the registration card - I'm assuming this wasn't signed over either. I honestly don't know what to do in this situation... it's a good question. You may want to discuss it with the police and report it since the new owner still hasn't registered the vehicle which is still legally yours. Perhaps you can avoid any issue by claiming that the purchaser breached your agreement by failing to register the car and then using the money paid as damages. That seems plausible to me.
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