Driver License woes

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Latest post 02-06-2013 1:07 PM by Drew. 16 replies.
  • 02-05-2013 3:37 PM

    Driver License woes

    Ok, so first things first, the story.

    Around 2005,2006, I sold a vehicle that I didn't drive, thus had no insurance on it, to an employee of my now ex-husbands. He handed me the money, I handed him the signed title. Within that same week, he did not have the title transferred, and was involved in an accident with another vehicle. The damages to the other vehicle total a little over $2000. He made one or two payments that he had set up with the other vehicle's attorney. Since then he hasn't paid anything, has gone missing(he's an illegal Mexican), and my license has been suspended because of it.  Last year around tax time I spoke to the attorney and he said the lowest amount that they would accept from me to get the suspension off my license would be $1500!

    So my first question is, am I really legally obligated to pay anything of this amount?

    Second question is, if I really am obligated to pay, shouldn't I only be required to pay half of the amount and the man who caused the accident be required the other half?

    Sorry so long, thanks for reading and answering!

  • 02-05-2013 3:48 PM In reply to

    • Drew
      Consumer
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    Re: Driver License woes

    Even an intelligent quess would require knowing about your states title registration laws  and thats beyond me....my guess might be he was driving on your 'old plates" --and you are hooked that way even if he failed to register the car?  Did you take your old plates off?



  • 02-05-2013 3:50 PM In reply to

    Re: Driver License woes

    I am  not a lawyer, and so feel free to ignore me

    Me, If I wanted my licence back I would drop $2k or whatever and sort the entire thing out.

    Sometimes you have to cut off your leg to get out of the trap

    maybe Jack or tax agent have thougths for you as to shaving off some of the extra bills?

    Good luck!

     

  • 02-05-2013 4:01 PM In reply to

    Re: Driver License woes

    You pay whatever it takes to get your license back.

    You might have a valid cause of action against the buyer for indemnification but good luck finding him and making that stick.

    When you sold the car there was likely a statutory requirement that you notify the BMV of the sale. Apparently you didn't do that. Had you done so you wouldn't likely have this problem.

    • The right of the people 
    • to keep and bear arms,
    • shall not be infringed.
  • 02-05-2013 4:11 PM In reply to

    • Kivi
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    Re: Driver License woes

    Agree about that statutory notification. I had somewhat a similar situation arise, but I was able to establish that I had made a timely notification to the DMV of the transfer of the vehicle. I had taken the vehicle off my insurnce once I sold it. The accident occurred before the DMV had processed tthe notification, but the DMV eventually did verify it had treceived he notice of the ownership change. (Things were a bit less computerized in 1998 or 1999.)

    The problem went away, at least for me. (Can't speak for the buyer or the person whose car he hit.)

  • 02-05-2013 4:52 PM In reply to

    Re: Driver License woes

    There is a big leap here between the buyer causing the accident and your license getting suspended.  When did the suspension occur?  Why did it occur since you were neither the driver nor the owner of the vehicle at the time of the accident?  When you were first notified of the suspension, did you take any action to contest it?

     

    starchelsea:
    So my first question is, am I really legally obligated to pay anything of this amount?

    I cannot imagine why you would be.  Were you sued?  Did the other driver get a judgment against you?  Keep in mind that this is a very different question from "what do I need to do to get my driver's license suspension lifted?"

     

    starchelsea:
    Second question is, if I really am obligated to pay, shouldn't I only be required to pay half of the amount and the man who caused the accident be required the other half?

    Since we don't know why you might have any obligation to pay it is a little difficult to address this question except to say that parties who are jointly liable for these sorts of damages are typically liable for 100% of the damages but have a right to seek indemnity and contribution from each other based on their relative percentages of fault.  In other words, if we assume that the other driver has a judgment against you and the buyer of your car, the other driver can recover the entire judgment from either of you (although he cannot collect more than the amount of the judgment in total).

  • 02-05-2013 5:52 PM In reply to

    Re: Driver License woes

    Clarification...

    i did not have a bill of sell. And in hindsight i know i now that i need bill of sell and to make a copy of signed title. That being said, my questions are to what i can about it now? The suspension happened about 3 yrs i believe. I had a suspension for something else, had paid off all thosr fees and such only to go to the bmv to be told that there was a suspension from a lawyer. Contacted the lawyer since he said he would never do that since i wasnt involved in the accident. Now i know that all they want is the money so theyre taking it out on me.  

    Amd dropping 2k is a bit bunch when im a stay at home mom with a husband in the military. If he were to get deployed i would be screwed. The only way we can afford that is at tax time. Now i also have reinstatemt fees and i have to get insurance for 6mos before i can get my license back. 

    And the only way to get the suspension lifted is thru the lawyer. But i dont wanna be scammed into paying the buyers portion of the debt. When in reality he should be responsible for all it, but it is what it is. 

  • 02-05-2013 7:17 PM In reply to

    Re: Driver License woes

    Hard lesson learned, I am afraid. You did not create the needed proof that you sold the car . Hence, you were shown as the last registered owner in DMV records. So, the other side got the judgment against you, perhaps on the basis of "negligent entrustment" (or something along those lines) and, of course, the lack of insurance on the vehicle at the time of the accident. I would verify that a judgment was issued against you with the appropriate court.

    From what you said, the buyer has long since disappeared and probably cannot be easily found. If you want to have that license, you are going to have to "pony up" the funds, etc. You can try to find your buyer and sue him for contribution since he failed to register the car, etc. From what you have said about him, that one looks like a real long shot.  

    The judgment, if it exists, probably makes both you and the buyer liable, but the person who has the judgment (or the law firm that now has it) is free to chase after either of you for the full amount owed, not just 50% of it. Looks like you may be more "findable" than your buyer and have more to lose than he does from not paying. Perhaps, he does not care about driving with a suspended license. (There is really no way to know what may be going with his license, or if he ever had one.)

    You might be able to discharge the judgment in bankruptcy, but a BK discharge generally won't help you on the matter of your license.

    Can you borrow the money from relatives or earn some money from babysitting, etc? You state that your current spouse is active duty military. Have you discussed this problem with him? As you noted, if he gets deployed, you are going to be in a "world of hurt". I know it is not his debt, but your inability to drive your kids to schools, medical appointments, or even just go the to grocery store etc may rapidly become his problem if he is deployed. Most military installations are not that "public transit friendly", often for security reasons.

    If you really need or want your license, you need to come up with money and pay ithe judgment off. Whether you continue to look for your buyer is up to you.

    If you do this one, be sure you get a satisfaction of judgment from that law firm and  record it with the court that issued the judgment. You can then present it to the DMV and comply with any other conditions that it may have.

     

  • 02-05-2013 8:21 PM In reply to

    Re: Driver License woes

    starchelsea:
    only to go to the bmv to be told that there was a suspension from a lawyer.

    Huh?  Are those the exact words the BMV clerk used?

    Apparently you can go on their website and view your driving record:  http://www.in.gov/bmv/2331.htm

    I suggest you do that and see if you can find out which court ordered your license suspension (and when).  My lay reading of both the Indiana statute and the BMV's website indicate that your license can only be suspended for YOUR traffic violations and not for violations committed by others regardless of who owns the car.

    BMV:    http://www.in.gov/bmv/2330.htm

    Statute:    http://www.in.gov/legislative/ic/code/

       (go to Title 9 Motor Vehicles, then Article 25 Financial Responsibility)

  • 02-05-2013 8:46 PM In reply to

    Re: Driver License woes

    I thank you all for the responses. The judgement exists, i went to the court for it when it firet occurrd.  I am not filing bankruptcy! I cant borrow the $, my dads self employed, lacking work right now, and my mom has just been diagnosed with ms and shes going blind. So they need their $. Husbands parents arnt worth a lick, so cant ask them. My grandparents dont speak to me, my sisters dont have it, etc. we just moved close to his base, so i dont know anyone to even suggest babysitting for.. All of his $ goes to our bills and family.. I just wanted to make sure before i spent my tax check getting this figured out, that i wasnt being wronged. I just know know in other small claims matters generally when there are 2 people responsible for a debt it is split between the 2. 

    But i will definitely make sure i get the satisfaction of judgement thru the firm and court and to the bmv. Thank you!

  • 02-05-2013 8:50 PM In reply to

    Re: Driver License woes

    Yes, those were the exact words. They said theres a suspension from this lawyer thats all we know. I had to contact him to find out how mich was still owed,etc. on my record it just says the same thing as what they told me at bmv. Judgement suspended, thats it. It was just a small claims court that issued it amd about 3 yrs ago. Now this whole thing has been since end of 05 beginning of 06. They can only hold the suspension til 15 from what the driving record says. But i am definitely looking into those statutes, etc. thank you so much for your help!

  • 02-05-2013 9:58 PM In reply to

    • DPH
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    Re: Driver License woes

    starchelsea:
    about 3 yrs ago. Now this whole thing has been since end of 05 beginning of 06.

    Would probably have been easier to deal with this had you tried to resolve it 3 years ago.  Have you been driving this whole time with a suspended license?

     

    "Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience."  -  Mark Twain

     

  • 02-05-2013 10:30 PM In reply to

    Re: Driver License woes

    No, i dont even have a vehicle to drive! My husband is currently working thirds on post, so if an emergency arises that i need him hes 10mins away. He takes me everywhere i need to go. And i did try to get this resolve, but so many things have happened, divorce, being a single mom, getting married, getting pregnant and having complications to where i was fired from my job because of it, etc that i didnt have the money to just blow $2000 for someone elses accident, plus $ for insurance and reinstatent fees. Almost 3 years ago when i was trying to get it all straightened out my dad had already loaned me money to pay off a ticket i had plus reinstatement fees and insurance and my best friend donated her car to me to drive, that i couldnt afford all that other since i didnt know about it until i went to the license branch to get a license. The last i knew the guy was making payments and the lawyer said all was ok for me since he was paying. Turns out he made 2 or 3 payments then stopped. I never received notice from the lawyer or the license branch or anyone that i then and now have to pay the debt. 

  • 02-05-2013 11:00 PM In reply to

    Re: Driver License woes

    starchelsea:
    Judgement suspended, thats it.

    Judgment suspended is not at all the same thing as driver's license suspended.  Generally judgment suspended means you don't have to pay the judgment as long as you meet whatever requirements the judge set out for the judgment to remain suspended.

    Do you know on what basis the court ordered your driver's license to be suspended?  What laws did they cite?

    Does the military have a service along the lines of legal aid, where staff lawyers are there to help military members and their families deal with legal issues (free of charge)?  Might be worth getting a copy of the entire case file from the small-claims court and seeing what a lawyer thinks it all means.

  • 02-06-2013 12:46 AM In reply to

    • Kivi
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    Re: Driver License woes

    I don't know if she appeared in court at the time or if it was a default judgment.

    Bottomline, though, she really could not prove that she had sold the vehicle prior to when it was involved in that accident. Since the vehicle was not insured, she got tagged with allowing "her" vehicle to be operating on the roads without the proper insurance and then not paying for the damage that arose from the accident that was deemed to be the driver's fault. The only way for her to get her license back is to pay that judgment and/or probably comply with some other DMV conditions.

    Anyone can get have an accident and then claim that the vehicle was sold to someone else before the accident happened so it is really that person's fault. Her story may sounded like the oldest story in the books, if she told it to the judge.

    Since there was no insurance and the damage was not paid for and she allowed "her" vehicle to be driven on the highways without insurance, the Dept of Motor vehicles suspended her license. It may have suspended the buyer's license as well. It is almos automatic that if someone has an accident in "your" vehicle and there is no insurance, your license gets suspended until you pay the judgment.

    As noted, this was a hard lesson to learn. Selling a vehicle is not as simple as holding a garage sale where you sell your old sticks of furniture and children's outgrown, but useable clothing. She appears to have not known that she needed that documentation, such as a bill of sale, or that she needed to report the sale to the DMV for her own protection. Because of her ignorance she got burned big time.

    Ignorance of the law, however, is almost never a valid "excuse" and  the judge may not have  "bought it". But, even if the judge personally did believe her, her failure to follow the proper legal steps when the selling the vehicle probably left the judge little choice but to find against her.

    To the Original Poster. I am afraid this matter is a done deal and I doubt that there is much legally that you can do to get the judgment set aside. The judgment almost certainly holds both you and that buyer equally liable for the entire amount. The person holding the judgment is free to pick and choose who to chase.

    It is not a situation where you get to pay half of the amount owed  and the law firm gets chase that buyer for the other half. You probably are on the hook for the entire amount. However, if this law firm bought the debt from the original creditor, you probably can settle it for less the the total amount owed because the law firm probably did not pay full face value for it.

    If your tax refund will not cover the possible cost, then you are going to have to get "creative" in coming up with the rest of the money. I would not rule out the possibility that further negotiation might result in you maybe having to pay less than $1500.  On the other hand, that law firm probably knows that you are not contacting them solely out of the goodness of your heart and that you want your license back. That does give them some leverage. Still, if this accident happened in 2006, this debt is getting old and has not produced much in the way of results in the last six plus years. You might be able to shave a couple hundred off the initial settlement figure. But, don't burden them with your sob story. Debt collectors hear these stories day in and day out and generally are not impressed.

     

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