State system changes cause car registration problems across Texas

By: Stephanie Brletic
By: Stephanie Brletic

For the last few weeks all around Texas, used car buyers have been dealing with some major changes in the system. Now buyers cannot use the existing registration and license plates until the title is transferred out of the original owner’s name.

Both tag agents and dealerships have been struggling with interrupting the plate to owner law and say there was little preparation leading up to the changes... Which have been causing a lot of confusion for everyone involved.

"Rocky, at best." is how car lot owner Perry Bradshaw describes the transition.

The new law affects all used passenger cars and truck sales. It's known as the "Plate to Owner" Law, and it took effect on the first of the year. But not all dealerships- let alone private citizens- knew about the changes.

Officials say TX-DOT sent notification of the changes to all members of the Texas Auto Dealer Association, but the problem is that not all licensed dealers belong to the association.

"That assumption caused chaos. Everybody has been unfamiliar with it, I’ve had calls and e-mails about it out of Dallas, I’ve had Sherman, Grayson County, calling me asking me about these things," Pam Sweet-Richardson, Fannin County Tax Assessor/Collector, says.

Under the new law, dealers have to remove license plates on cars they receive and give them to the car owner. If the owner doesn't want them, the plates get destroyed. Private sellers have to follow these new rules as well.

"Individuals have to take the tags off of their cars when they trade their cars or sell to other individuals or to dealers, so it's going to be hard for everyone to understand exactly what we're supposed to do."

Officials say the lack of information about the changes has been frustrating, but Sweet-Richardson said she has been working with TX-DOT to help clear up the confusion.

"We’re on the front lines, and when questions are asked, I will find the answer."

Oklahoma officials say their registration laws still allow plates and registration to be transferred. They say you have 30 days to transfer the title.


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