PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY BRYANT FUKUTOMI / BFUKUTOMI@STARBULLETIN.COM
Some of the blank motor vehicle forms that can be picked up at any satellite city hall include duplicate motor vehicle certificate of title; replacement of license plate and/or emblem; out-of-state vehicle permit; and notice of transfer.
It’s not my car!
A seller does not want to pay for the new owner's traffic citations
I sold my car to someone who never sent in the transfer of ownership, so the car is still in my name. Now I'm getting all these notices about traffic tickets and a default judgment. I have to put up a bond and go to court. I did send in a "Notice of Transfer" when I sold the car, although the city said they didn't have it on file the first time they checked. They did find it later. Is there anything else I can do? I don't want to go to court.
Answer: As long as you did your part by sending in a completed Notice of Transfer form, you won't be held liable for citations issued after the transfer is recorded, according to state Judiciary and city motor vehicle officials.
A partially completed Notice of Transfer is the tear-off form affixed to the top of a vehicle's Certificate of Title. A blank form is available at any satellite city hall or can be found online at www.honolulu.gov/csd/satellite/cslmvr53.pdf, according to Dennis Kamimura, administrator of the city Motor Vehicle & Licensing Division.
"A properly completed and submitted Notice of Transfer form will relieve the seller from future civil or criminal liabilities if the buyer fails to record the transfer into the buyer's name," he said.
We asked him to explain the process for recording the transfer.
Once it receives a completed Notice of Transfer form, the Motor Vehicle Branch flags the vehicle's computer record to indicate that the form is on file.
Kamimura said all forms are picked up in the afternoon of each workday by a private contractor, scanned, indexed by license plate number and placed in the city's Notice of Transfer server by the next working day.
He said he doesn't understand why the motor vehicle staff could not find your Notice of Transfer form the first time, unless it was in the process of being placed on the server or it was indexed under an incorrect license plate number.
Meanwhile, the buyer of the vehicle is required to submit a completed certificate of title to a satellite city hall or to mail it within 30 days of the date of release indicated on the title by the seller.
If the transfer is submitted and can be processed within 30 days, the transfer fee is $10. If the transfer is not submitted or cannot be processed within 30 days, the delinquent penalty, plus the transfer fee, is $60, Kamimura said.
Ordinarily, if a seller started receiving traffic citations for a vehicle after it was sold, even after submitting a Notice of Transfer, the advice is to call the Motor Vehicle Branch at 532-4325, explain what was happening and ask for a certified copy of the Notice of Transfer form on file.
The seller then would be directed to call the Traffic Violations Bureau to determine how to submit this certified copy so that he/she "can be relieved of the citations issued after selling the vehicle," Kamimura said.
By calling the Traffic Violations Bureau (538-5500), you can find out what the outstanding citations are involving your sold vehicle, as well as verify there are no unpaid citations dated prior to the transfer date, for which you would be held responsible, explained Marsha Kitagawa, spokeswoman for the state Judiciary.
You may file a "Motion to Set Aside Default Judgment" at the appropriate District Court to resolve the outstanding citations issued after the car was transferred, she said. The form is available online at www.courts.state.hi.us under the "Forms" and "Traffic Cases" links, as well as at the District Court courthouses.
However, you are required to post an appearance bond, secured by cash equal to all the outstanding fines and fees, Kitagawa said.
You also must let the court know whether you will appear at the court hearing or submit a written explanation in lieu of appearing at the hearing.
If you submit a written explanation, the court will notify you of its decision in writing within 30 days of the date the motion was filed. You can include any "exhibits," such as a certified copy of the Notice of Transfer, with the statement.
If the court finds that the citations were incurred by the new owner, the judge will enter an order dismissing the citations and the money you posted as security will be returned, Kitagawa said.
Got a question or complaint?
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