Last year, a clerk failed to properly transcribe the VIN on the Camry. So we got the title for the Forester, but never got the one for the Camry. They sent us a form to fill out where we’d have a police officer verify the number of the car, but that fell through the tracks. It was important, but never urgent.

This year, I went to the DMV to turn in the form, and it created a problem. (Which would be, it turned out, one of several problems.)

Basically, the issue was this:
1) Without the VIN, the car was not officially registered.
2) Registration was required before they could accept the VIN verification form.
3) The car could not be registered without an accepted VIN verification form.

You can prove you have (unofficial?) registration by giving them the temporary registration card, but we didn’t have that. The lady at the DMV was actually skeptical there was any way out of this that didn’t involve buying a new car.

Other problems included the fact that the registration had expired on the Forester (I thought I had until the end of the month, but it turned out that it was the beginning) and that I didn’t have proof of payment of the property tax. That last one confused me a great deal, because we didn’t have to have anything like that the previous year. Further, how did they know we didn’t rent? To add on top of all of this, we moved without informing the DMV. I didn’t want to complicate matters by bringing that up.

It turned out that the state levies property taxes on vehicles. This isn’t too far from what Arapaho did, but in Arapaho they basically altered the cost of registration to meet (to some degree) the value of the vehicle. Here, you apparently have to make a separate trip to the Second County Tax Assessor. I went to the county courthouse to the tax collector’s office, and was told that I needed to go to the Assessor’s office. I went to the Assessor’s office, only to find out I had to go to the second assessor, because the primary assessor only dealt with land property. The Second Assessor was a little cubby hole in the back of the courthouse (metal detector and all).

Believe it or not, I found all of this easier than dealing with the DMV. The Second Assessor couldn’t give me a tax document without proof of registration, but when I explained the situation she did anyway.

When we got back to the DMV, we got a different lady who was much more helpful. Actually, she wasn’t helpful at all, but since it was a complicated situation and she had just started the job two days before, she took us to someone who could help us. Within an hour, everything had been settled. She basically called the person in the state capital who had transcribed the VIN number incorrectly, and they quietly corrected it, with everything quietly falling into place.


Category: Courthouse

About the Author

Will Truman (trumwill) is a southern transplant in the mountain east with an IT background who bides his time taking care of their daughter while his wife brings home the bacon. You will probably be relieved to know that he does not generally refer to himself in the third-person except when he's writing short bios on his web page.

13 Responses to Adventures at the DMV

  1. Peter says:

    One thing I hated about living in Connecticut was the property tax on cars. It could be quite burdensome, several hundred dollars a year on distinctly ordinary vehicles in some jurisdictions. You had to pay it to the tax assessors twice a year, and if you were behind at all it had to be paid in full before you could register a car with no provisions for installment payments.

  2. In contrast, New York doesn’t involve itself in such silliness, and the registration fees are a function of where you live, the weight of your car, and the cylinders. I have three cars registered in my name, and the cost of registering the lightest one (2001 Toyota Celica) and the heaviest one (1999 Lincoln Town Car) was only $60. The brand new car (Mazda 3) was cheaper than the Town Car. FWIW, the only time that I’ve paid more than $200 to register any car was when I swapped the plates due to a change in legal ownership after my dad passed away.

    Admittedly, our other taxes including our gas taxes are much higher than other states. Mind you, I’d much rather pay higher gas taxes, while keeping low registration costs, but I’m biased from owning a car that sees low use.

  3. Peter says:

    New York does require annual vehicle inspections, which can be costly as it’s very easy for cars to fail. It’s also pointless, as I would imagine that the percentage of crashes caused by vehicle defects is almost nonexistent.

    • trumwill says:

      Oy. You just reminded me of something that I forgot to do.

    • Mike Hunt Ray Rice says:

      1) New Jersey got rid of inspections in two steps. First, they switched the inspections from yearly to biyearly. Secondly, they dropped the safety and equipment inspection, keeping only emissions. With this they gave a 5 year exemption to new cars.

      How do I feel about this? I would feel safer knowing that cars have been inspected for safety and equipment rather than not. I don’t think the data supports my feeling though.

      2) An annual automobile property tax sounds like a gigantic pain. I’m glad NJ doesn’t have it.

      • trumwill says:

        I don’t want inspections for anybody, but if you’re going to have them for anybody, have them for everybody. No “Look at me I have a new car!” exceptions.

        Ravenstvo!

        • Mike Hunt Ray Rice says:

          Ravenstvo?

        • In contrast, I’m pro-inspection, and I don’t see anything wrong with an exemption for new vehicles as they’re the least likely to have problems. FWIW, I’d probably want whatever testing regime the Germans use to keep crappy looking cars off the Autobahn over what’s used here in the states that use safety inspections as a regulatory tool. I’d also note that instead of mechanic shops performing the test, I’d rather see non-profits or other standards bodies perform the test which is how the Germans run their testing regime.

        • I’m biased because I work in roadside assistance, and there are lots of people who do seem clueless in regards to maintaining their own vehicles. Eventually, people get their brakes replaced, but I suspect the state inspection is what forces some people to replace their bald tires or do something about their failing suspensions.

          The emissions portion is what drives people crazy as perfectly viable cars with wonky emissions systems from the late 1990s have trouble passing, while some jurisdictions will relax said requirements for anything before 1996.

        • trumwill says:

          “Ravenstvo!” is, as near as I can tell, Russian for “Equality!”

          David, I would need to see a state with a demonstrably effective model at reducing accidents at a rate to justify the immense aggregate costs.

  4. Peter says:

    Apropos of all this, I brought my car in for inspection earlier today, and even though I had no reason to believe it wouldn’t pass it still was a somewhat scary experience.
    It passed.

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