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DMV Didn't Release Liability

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Junior Member
What is the name of your state?What is the name of your state?What is the name of your state?What is the name of your state?What is the name of your state? California

Back in September 2003 I sold a car to a private party.
I sent in my release of Liability the day after I sold the car.

Several months later I get a notice from the DMV that my registration is delinquent and about a week after that I get a notice that the car was impounded.

The peson that I sold it to never registered the car.
The release of Liability I sent in was never recorded by the DMV.

I was able to prove to the DMV that I sold the car but because they didn't receive my initial relase of liability form, I had to file another in March 2004. I call two months later and the release still had not been posted by the DMV and I had to go in again in May. They acknowledge that the transfer date was 9/03 but the receipt date shows 5/2004. (when I called the DMV last week 1/2005 they acknowleded that they now have both the 2004 release of Liabilty forms on file - but my 2003 form is officially lost - which the DMV clerk said happens all the time - they don't lose the cash though she said.

The collection company is now trying to collect from me the amount they say I owe because the car was in my name. They don't care that the DMV lost the original paperwork. I maintain that I did everything I was supposed to do and I cannot control what the DMV does. I want to take my chances in court - which the collection company advises against (they say they can collect up to 3 times the amount which will be close to $9,000 and that the judge would rule against me because the release date is after the impound date). The lady I spoke with at DMV says the judges listen and understand that DMV does lose paperwork. I have everything, including the date that I removed the car from insurance (ten days later - just in case something happened).

If I go to court - which I am willing to do, do I have a leg to stand? Or will I be found liable for the impound and collection fees? Is there any court cases I can site to support my argument?

Thank you for your time.


Senior Member
Its not YOUR fault that DMV screwed up and lost the paperwork. If you have documentation to show that you did, in fact, send them the release in 2003, and any back-up documentation to go along with it, then you DO have a leg to stand on in fighting the collection agency. Its the DMV that needs to call of their dogs, THEY blew it.


Junior Member
Hi Lisa,

I'm in a similar situation. In July 2003 I sold a scooter. I mailed the release of liability form of a couple of days later. Apparently the DMV never got it, and the guy I sold the bike to never put it in his name. In November 2004 the bike got towed, and the whoever owned it at that time never claimed it back. This morning I got a letter in the mail from a collection agency saying that the bike got auctioned/dismantled, and that I owe them $2500! I called them right away and explained that I had sold the bike year and a half ago. They replied that I'm the last registered owner of the bike, and so that I'm liable for it. They said that they'll take my name off their list only if I get the DMV to release a document stating that I didn't own the bike at the time it got towed. I called the DMV and the said they can't do that because they never got the form...

All this happened today. I'm going to try to track down the guy I sold it to, and somehow make him acknowledge in court or at the DMV that I sold the bike to him in July '03 (I have a few witnesses; I'm hoping that'll help).

Anyways, just letting you know you're not alone. If you get useful advice/info, please pass it on. Will do the same.


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