Family gets abandoned vehicle notice and fine for car they sold years ago

Bruce Mathews said his daughter received an abandoned vehicle notice for a car they sold years ago. (Source: KPHO)
Published: Mar. 21, 2023 at 7:52 PM EDT
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PHOENIX (KPHO/Gray News) - A family in Arizona recently received an abandoned vehicle notice along with a fine for a car they haven’t owned in years.

The notice from the Arizona Department of Transportation showed up months ago in the mail for Bruce Mathews’ daughter. It came with a fine of $500 and a blocked Motor Vehicle Division account.

“She was horrified when she first received the notice,” Matthews said.

Mathews said he had helped his daughter sell the 2007 Chevy Cobalt to a scrapper years ago.

“It wasn’t hers,” he said. “Hadn’t been hers for six years.”

Mathews contacted ADOT’s abandoned vehicle unit to resolve the issue. He said he had recently thrown out old paperwork related to the sale since enough time had passed and there seemed to be no reason to keep it.

“We had sent the notice into the MVD that the vehicle had been sold and signed the title over to the salvage company,” he said. “I figured clearly they would have the paperwork, so I’ll just call them.”

However, when he called, he said they did not have the paperwork.

“This is wrong. They put up a block wall. It just frustrates you that much more, makes you that much more determined,” Mathews said. “If it’s happening to us, it’s happening to other people.”

KPHO contacted the MVD to find out what exactly happened to the Cobalt in the years since the Mathews sold it.

They said Bill Lamoreax, a spokesperson for the agency, told them they were unable to find records showing a transfer of ownership.

“The right things were done by signing the back of the title, but then the one thing that didn’t happen was that title wasn’t then ever submitted to the MVD to get reprocessed and retitled,” Lamoreaux said.

When selling a vehicle, it’s important to make sure it is completely out of the seller’s name. Lamoreaux recommended the buyer and seller come to the MVD office together to make sure the vehicle is properly transferred.

Fortunately for the Mathews, some years-old insurance information helped prove the vehicle had been sold, and the MVD wiped away the fine.

“We are very happy to get this particular case resolved in a positive manner for this customer,” Lamoreaux said.