I fought it via mail. It took multiple round trips. At each step the potential fine more than doubled. If I did not respond correctly or in time, I waved my right to appeal. The appeal paperwork contradicted itself. (Page 1: You must do X or we will reject your appeal. Page 2: You must not do X or we will reject your appeal). I had to send a passport photo less than 30 days old of myself in, but photos taken with electronic cameras are not allowed.
In the end, I sent a letter. The city of San Francisco is not obligated to inform me of a successful appeal, so either I beat the ticket, or some day (maybe years from now) they will issue a warrant for my arrest.
This isn't even guilty until proven innocent. 100% of the evidence presented against me proved my innocence, and I will be in legal limbo forever.
[edit: In a special kafka-esque twist, the only reason I was able to fill out the paperwork successfully is because the telephone operator at the SF courthouse took pity on me. There is a number to call for clarification, but no one picks up that phone. So, your best bet is to get your legal advice from the operator.]
This happens all the time, and the radio station has a department to deal with these issues. If you call the car donations hotline, and ask for the red light ticket helpdesk, you will be transferred to someone that might be able to help bootstrap a class action suit. I suspect this situation is the same in most states.
but the key language is:
> Protect Your Liability. Complete a Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability. The seller is responsible for reporting the change of ownership to DMV within 5 days from the date of sale. After DMV updates the information from the Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability, you will be cleared from future liability on the vehicle. The purchaser is responsible for reporting the change of ownership to DMV within 10 days from the date of purchase.
Being liable for a traffic ticket is one thing, but imagine being thought liable for a hit and run collision.
(There are more, contradictory instructions that they mail out with the ticket)
Their database of car registrations is not regularly synced with the DMV, so they routinely send citations to people that do not own the car in question.
There is no process for "the bureaucracy screwed up", so they won't accept a copy of the liability transfer reciept as proof you are no longer liable (nor will they simply contact the DMV).
Of course, since you have no idea what the new owner is up to, you can't provide the information required to contest the ticket.
At this point, things get progressively more bizarre.
Not making the information on general contests (rather than a few narrow cases) readily available makes it more likely that people that rely on only the county site for information won't contest tickets (thinking that there is no procedure available for their circumstance), which reduces costs associated with contested tickets.
There certainly is, whether or not SF County actively provides it to you.
In any case, the state does provide it.
So, you'll be guilty of perjury with clear documentary evidence, but get out of the traffic infraction. Likely pyrrhic victory, there.
And if you sell your car to a dealership (i.e., give it away for pennies because you don't want it anymore) and they say they will do this step for you, assume they are full of shit.
I sold my old Toyota to DGDG in San Jose. I specifically asked them about this step (having experience with the equally kafkaesque Texas Toll Systems) and they told me they'd take care of it for me. Sweet.
Six months later I'm getting letters about toll violations. I dispute them with proof, dismissed. I did this five times for various toll violations until finally I bugged the dealership enough for them to get around to fixing it. But their first response was: "Don't worry about it, if they come in the mail, just ignore them." Uh..
This year a car I used to drive was involved in a serious accident. I sold the car 7 years ago, the owner was just driving it illegally without registration. A few minutes on the phone with the police officer and it was cleared up.
When I went to the DMV a few months later to renew a car registration, they thought that I still owned the boat. They said it happens all the time. I had the bill of sale to sort things out.
In California, the plates stay with the car (unless they are vanity or you are attached to your plate number)
Why would car ownership be anything but a very weak piece of evidence in such a case?
This was wayyyy before red light/speeding cameras existed - I was 17 under mom's insurance. Car insurance calls mom saying my car was involved in a hit-and-run, a bystander took down the license plate of the hit and run car, my license plate. This hit and run also happened in the town I lived in. Totally plausible and even provable it was me, or at least someone driving my car.
My car, however, at that time was about 250 miles away... Being towed, as the shitbox I drove broke down, again. I had the tow truck receipt to prove it.
I honestly don't know what ended up happening, as at 17 I wasn't handling this kinda stuff. I guess the tow receipts proved it wasn't me. Or maybe it was a different make/model/color than what was registered with the DMV. Anyways, I never heard about it again. Of course, nobody went after me for a crime, it was the insurance who cared in this case, not the police. I don't know how long this took to resolved or how much of a pain of the ass it was to deal with.
I just find it very frightening that, when you looked at it from afar, it seemed so obvious that it was me even though I was totally innocent.
That's completely silly but it sounds like it was just as effective as your efforts so far. Hope you get it sorted some day.
How could the city not know who the owner of the car is?
Over here photo tickets follow a simple rule: if it's your car, it's your responsibility to know who's driving it. When you get a ticket, you either name the driver, or you pay it yourself. But I haven't heard of anyone getting a ticket for someone else's car.
Because frankly the city doesn't care about change of ownership. Many cities (probably most in California, and SF for sure) are totally disconnected from helping citizens. They really neither interested, nor in business of helping you out. They BELIEVE you did something wrong and that's enough. Most of the time they are right and that's enough of a fuel for a SF budget committee not to allocate budget to helping few citizens out of majority to "make it right" for them.
An interesting story from an App that made it simple to fight wrong tickets. Who would have thought that SF would give you wrong ticket or that they would be in wrong generally? You not supposed to be well-informed either. At the end, they got frustrated by all people who lawfully and willingly were submitting claims via Fax and just simply... unplug their fax machine!
When Fixed began faxing its submissions to SFMTA last year, the agency emailed the startup to stop using their fax machine. When Fixed pointed out that it was legal to do so, the agency simply shut off their fax.
Eh, Boston isn't in California but from what I gather most of the populace has contracted whatever California has so it may as well be.
If the seller forgets to send in the sell notification and the buyer flakes out on registering the only person they know to pursue is the seller. Hopefully the seller has a signed bill of sale so they can point the finger further down the ownership chain.
That's not always the case. In some states the plates are "owned" by the vehicle, not a person and are transferred with the vehicle on sale.
Depending on the states in question the fine for invalid registration is usually much less than the cost of having the unregistered vehicle towed from A to B so many people just slap an old plate on the back and cross their fingers.
Some states have an excellent DMV. Others suck. It depends.
Part of it is just due to population density. They need to increase the number of DMVs by about 10 to get a reasonable distribution for the population.
Or you pay a fine for not naming the driver. Which makes sense, because if you're unaware who was driving (or not willing to say), why should you be punished for speeding/running a red light, as opposed to not naming the driver.
Some states require that the title be notarized (signed and sealed in front of a notary public who verifies your identity) which can be done at a bank at transfer time.
In both cases, the buyer is responsible for registering the car (at which time they'll pay sales tax on it. The seller will usually print and fill out a bill of sale. It's best to get this notarized too along with the title).
Unless you fill out one of the forms mentioned in the comments, the car will still be listed as belonging to you until the buyer registers it.
As you've described it, you're depending on the buyer doing the right thing.
What? No they do not. The plates stay with the person not the car. You can transfer the plates from car to car as well.
> Do you live in a place where one must obtain new plates immediately after purchasing a car?
Where do you live that you don't????
Are you sure that in your state plates transfer with the car? What state is that, because I would like to look that up.