12/19/2005Texas Car Registration System Shifts Blame to the Innocent
Flaws in the Texas automobile registration system mean innocent people are getting tickets.
Texas motorists who trade their car in at automobile wholesalers and dealerships are finding they are increasingly being stuck with tickets that they don't deserve. The cause is a state law allowing a dealer to keep the original owner's name on a vehicle title until a new owner purchases the car. Some dealers won't transfer the title until the vehicle is completely paid for -- meaning cars are being driven under the name of the original owner. Some unscrupulous individuals have learned how to bend the rules and renew the car in another's name.
As more and more Texas cities rush to adopt red light camera ticketing systems, this means more innocent drivers are being put in awkward situations. Fort Worth resident Christy Jump, for example, noticed she had a problem when she received a notice in the mail about a parking ticket for a 1987 Buick Park Avenue she had traded in four years ago. The burden is now on her to prove her own innocence.
"It's a little scary," she told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "It's kind of like a strange form of identity theft."
Jump is being forced to provide the Municipal Court with the original bill of sale for the car, notify three different agencies, and pay a $5 fee all in an attempt that may absolve her of the crime she did not commit.