Buyers can get fines cleared on used cars
I tried to register my vehicle at a satellite city hall and was told that there was a "stop" put on my registration. I was told to go to District Court to get a clearance. When I got there (after waiting in line for one hour), I was told that it was an outstanding parking ticket from 2004. I purchased the vehicle in 2005. After getting my clearance, I was told that this would probably happen again next year. I asked why and was told that the District Court could not clear it. There must be some way to save me the inconvenience of getting another clearance next year.
Answer: The procedure now actually is an improvement over what used-vehicle owners like you faced last September, if that's any consolation.
But now that you've gotten your initial clearance, you don't have to worry about having to get another one when you re-register next year, said Marsha Kitagawa, spokeswoman for the state Judiciary.
In September 2005, the Judiciary began requiring the new owner of a used vehicle to pay any outstanding parking fine incurred by the previous owner. That happened after an employee discovered a 1993 law that apparently had never been implemented before requiring "stoppers" on motor vehicle registrations with outstanding fines.
The result: Dozens of people were not able to renew their vehicle registrations unless they either paid the fine, got the previous owner to pay, or filed an application for a default judgment.
However, the state Legislature this year passed a law allowing the Judiciary to issue clearances to new owners who were not responsible for the fines.
Under 291D-10(b) of the Hawaii Revised Statutes, as amended by Act 103 of the 2006 Legislature, "a new owner is not supposed to have to get a new clearance each year, but the old owner remains liable for the judgment," Kitagawa said.
"If someone was told otherwise, then that person was misinformed," she said.
You would not have to get another clearance unless another registration stopper is attached to your vehicle because of a subsequent violation, she said.
You can find more information about this on the Judiciary's Web site: www.courts.state.hi.us/page_server/SelfHelp/
The site states that if you are the new owner of a vehicle with a registration stopper, you may obtain a stopper clearance from the clerk of the District Court by showing proof of title transfer. Examples of a proof of title transfer include a certified copy of the notice of transfer of the vehicle filed with the applicable county department of motor vehicles; a certified copy of the certificate of ownership of the vehicle, signed by both the old and new owner, and filed with the applicable county DMV; and a certified letter from the applicable county DMV that the unpaid parking fees were incurred prior to the transfer of the vehicle's title to the new owner.
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