By Kurtis Ming

It’s been eight months since Rachelle and Ryan Watson traded in their gas-guzzling truck for a BMW. But they say they’re getting harassed to pay registration fees and a parking ticket tied to that truck they no longer have.

“It was kind of out of sight, out of mind when I drove off the lot, that this truck was not in my name anymore,” says Ryan.

That’s the way it’s supposed to work. Ryan filled out a notice of transfer and release of liability at the dealership. But just a few weeks later, the couple got a DMV registration notice for the truck, followed by a parking ticket issued in San Francisco, then more notices demanding registration money from the DMV.

“Now its saying if you don’t pay then we’re going to send you to collections,” says Rachelle.

The DMV still listed the Watsons as the registered owners of the truck. Ryan and Rachelle have gone back and forth between the dealership and the DMV to get their name removed.

“I’m done with this. This is ridiculous,” says Rachelle.

California law requires a release of liability be submitted to the DMV within five days of the sale. The dealership says they submitted the form within that deadline. The Watsons say they submitted the form on their own two more times. So why is their name still tied to that truck? The DMV couldn’t answer that question but said “both the dealer and the DMV followed the correct protocol, but for some reason during the various transactions, the Watsons’ name remained on the paperwork as the registered owner, which is the reason they received computer issued notices.” The DMV also issued this statement:

“As soon as we were notified about the Watson’s rare situation, we took immediate action to update their record within one day.

We are looking into solutions that will automatically adjust a customer’s record in uncommon instances like this.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused the Watson’s and appreciate their understanding.”

Jaime Garza

Information Officer

Office of Public Affairs

California Department of Motor Vehicles

Neither the DMV nor the dealership will say exactly what went wrong. But as

soon as we got involved the DMV removed the Watsons’ name from this truck for good.

“The longer we go without getting something, the more I’m just kind of like, this is good, we’re done,” says Rachelle.

We asked the DMV to tell us when that first release of liability form was submitted because it’s supposed to happen within five days of the sale. We were told they don’t have that date. The DMV does say what happened here, is incredibly rare.

Comments (4)
  1. Pharlan says:

    Unfortunately this isn’t as uncommon as they say. We, too, had this happen when we traded a car in. We filled out the paperwork at the dealership then I went home and filed a release online. It might have been overkill when I also mailed in a copy, but it turned out to be just what we needed. We were not only sent a registration form but a late form, even AFTER we called and were informed it was cleared. The lesson here is to never rely on a dealer to do your work, and always keep your paperwork.

  2. Wayne says:

    Uncommon my butt. It happens all the time. Send your release of liability certified mail just to cover your butt.

  3. Patti says:

    This is so NOT uncommon!! I actually hand delivered a release of liability form to DMV to make sure they got it. Guess what? Months later they came after me for parking tickets, and tow charges! The guy who bought it wrecked and left if!! This is not a rare occurance. For DMV to get it right is a rare occurance!!!

  4. Brent says:

    That Ryan is a LIAR!!!!!!!!!

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