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Car sellers in Oregon getting tickets issued to new owners

A Tualatin man. Shawn Stokes got six traffic tickets and was blamed for a hit-and-run crash involving a car he sold nearly a year ago.

PORTLAND, Ore. — When you sell or trade-in your old car- you think you’re done with it, right? Not for a Tualatin man. Shawn Stokes got six traffic tickets and was blamed for a hit-and-run crash involving a car he sold nearly a year ago.

“I couldn’t believe it!” explained Stokes. “It’s not me. It’s not me.”

Several consumers have complained to KGW about similar issues. They’re getting unexpected traffic tickets, parking tickets and blamed for towing fees involving cars they no longer own.

“I will forever get tickets on this car until someone registers it,” said Stokes.

Here’s the problem: When a car is sold in Oregon, the seller is responsible for telling the Oregon DMV. The form is called a Notice of Sale. State records will show the car has been sold- but that’s it. The original owners’ name won’t be removed until the new owner registers the vehicle.

This issue has created a real headache for Stokes. Since he traded in his Dodge Magnum to a local dealership in October 2017, he has received traffic tickets by mail from police in Beaverton, Renton and Federal Way. Images from the photo radar show the Dodge Magnum running red lights in Oregon and Washington. One of the tickets shows a man behind the wheel. It is not Stokes.

“There’s no question- it’s not me,” said Stokes.

Brian Leishman of Oregon City ran into a similar problem after selling his car. He notified the DMV by filing a Notice of Sale, but the buyer failed to hold up his part of the bargain. The new owner failed to re-title the car.

Several months later, Leishman got notice of a speeding ticket. His old car was caught on photo radar by Portland Police. Leishman had to provide documentation to prove he had sold the car. The ticket was dismissed, but the trouble didn’t stop there.

A few months later Leishman got a notice of lien and foreclosure from a towing company. They had hauled away his old car and the towing company wanted payment of more than $1,000.

“I don’t own this car anymore,” said Leishman. “The gal at the towing company is like ‘Well, your name is on the title still, so you are responsible for it.”

Again, Leishman had to make several phone calls and get the right documentation to prove it.

By Oregon law, if a seller submits the Notice of Sale form they won’t responsible for the new owner’s traffic tickets or unpaid toll fees, explained a DMV spokesperson.

“This law is designed to protect the consumer, the seller of the car. To protect you from any liability for parking tickets, speeding tickets, towing charges, storage charges- if the car were to be impounded,” explained David House, spokesperson for the Oregon DMV.

Legally, sellers may not be on the hook for all of those traffic tickets, but they’ll still have to jump through hoops to clear their name.

There’s no way to force the buyer to re-title the car.

One way to avoid this problem is for sellers to remove the license plates. It is perfectly legal in Oregon. Removing the plates forces the buyer to get a new title, plates and registration. The seller can prepare by getting a 21-day trip permit for $32, which will allow the buyer to drive the car until they apply for a new title.

Sellers may also want to complete the sale of the vehicle at a DMV field office parking lot. This will ensure that both the buyer and sellers are present to confirm the title transfer.