AUSTIN – Soaring gas prices are prompting many energy-conscious motorists to consider replacing what they’re currently driving with more fuel-efficient models. With millions of cars and trucks expected to change hands in the upcoming months, the Texas Department of Transportation launched its Protect Your Title, Texas public awareness outreach campaign today to remind consumers not to overlook the paperwork side of buying or selling a vehicle.
State law requires buyers and sellers to provide specific information to TxDOT to keep vehicle ownership records correct and up to date. When a vehicle is sold, traded in or given away, the vehicle’s title must be reassigned to its new owner.
According to state officials, this is where things often go wrong.
“A vehicle’s title lists who officially owns it,” said Rebecca Davio, director of TxDOT’s Vehicle Titles and Registration Division. “If the seller doesn’t let us know when a vehicle is sold or traded, he or she will continue to show up in our records as the owner, which means the individual can be held responsible if the new owner racks up parking tickets, toll violations or even more serious infractions.”
Speaking at TxDOT’s press event to announce the agency’s new outreach effort, Tom Frost III, senior executive vice president of Frost Bank, warned motorists not to make the same mistake he did when he traded in his car two years ago.
“I assumed the dealership was taking care of the paperwork,” Frost said. “I didn’t know it was my responsibility to file a simple one-page piece of paper that could have saved me two years of stress and aggravation because of things the new owner did in a vehicle that was still titled in my name.”
That one-page piece of paper, the Vehicle Transfer Notification, is now as simple as a few computer clicks. You can file the transfer notification for free online at www.txdot.gov. When you submit the notification within 30 days of selling your vehicle, you are protecting yourself from actions the new owner may commit with the vehicle.
As an additional precaution, sellers also should take advantage of a new state law that allows them to transfer the license plates to another vehicle they own. When the plates and windshield registration sticker are removed, it forces the buyer of your car or truck to apply for a new title and register the vehicle in his or her name.
By law, buyers must re-title a vehicle within 20 days of purchase. Recurring penalties apply to procrastinators, beginning with an initial $25 fine and $25 for every month that the buyer fails to turn in an application for a new title.
“The best advice I can give to buyers and sellers who aren’t sure what to do and what forms to fill out is to go together to their local county tax office to complete the sale,” said Davio. “If that isn’t possible, everything they need to know and all the necessary forms are on our Web site.”
Tips for buyers and sellers, title application and transfer forms can be found at www.txdot.gov.
The Texas Department of Transportation is responsible for maintaining nearly 80,000 miles of road and for supporting aviation, rail and public transportation across the state. TxDOT and its 15,000 employees strive to empower local leaders to solve local transportation problems, and to use new financial tools, including tolling and public-private partnerships, to reduce congestion and pave the way for future economic growth while enhancing safety, improving air quality and increasing the value of the state’s transportation assets. Find out more at www.txdot.gov (http://www.txdot.gov/).