California Governor Jerry Brown recently signed AB 1215 into law. The new law, which takes effect in July 2012, mandates that both new and used car dealers run their used cars through the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System to check for problems, and place a warning sticker on used cars with a shady past. According to the New York Times, the national database was created as a repository for information about vehicles deemed unsalvageable because of flood, fire, or crash damage. The bill’s proponents argued that the national registry, which is supplied information by insurance companies, salvage yards, and junkyards, is more comprehensive than commercial services like Carfax. The law is the first of its kind in the nation, and will hopefully afford consumers an additional layer of protection when purchasing a used vehicle.
The Los Angeles Times reported that Robert Beverly, a California Republican who served in the state legislature as both an assemblymember and a senator, passed away recently at his Southern California home. Beverly, along with Democrat Al Song, were at the leading edge of crafting laws that protect California consumers, including the Song-Beverly Act that created the state’s lemon law.
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is being urged to sign AB 647, which would require the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles to comply with federal law and allow consumer access to the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS).
According to the bill’s author, Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada,
“Established under the Anti-Car Theft Act of 1992, NMVTIS is an electronic vehicle-history database maintained by the Department of Justice that enables states, law enforcement agencies, and consumers to verify and exchange auto titling, theft and brand data. California is currently the only state participating in NMVTIS that also restricts releasing the data to consumers. The DMV entered a contract with a third party information converter, and as a stipulation of that agreement, restricted direct consumer access to NMVTIS. California consumers must go thorough this third party provider, paying upwards of $30 per vehicle for data. NMVTIS charges only at-cost prices for similar information. AB 647 calls on the DMV to comply with federal law and lift consumer access restrictions.”
In other words, instead of being able to access information directly from the DMV, Californians have to pay CarFax in order to obtain a vehicle’s history. An article in the Los Angeles Times in early September reported that the DMV has ended the CarFax contract early, paving the way for compliance. But a recent editorial in the Sacramento Bee notes that the DMV is opposing the bill, and urges the Governor to sign the bill into law. As the Bee so aptly noted, “The national database protects consumers from unsafe and stolen cars only if they have access to it.”
If anyone at Saleen Inc., a high-performance car manufacturer, is superstitious, a California court’s ruling in March – on Friday the 13th – reinforced their worst fears. That’s when the Orange County Superior Court awarded Dan Echino a $525,000 lemon law award against Saleen for a defective 2005 S7 twin turbo. According to Gary Berkovich, the plaintiff’s attorney, “Consumers have the right to expect that the items they purchase will be free from defects or will be fixed by the manufacturer, no matter if it is a television or the family car. This right and expectation becomes monumentally more important when you take into consideration that defects could be life-threatening if they occur in your vehicle.” We wholeheartedly agree.
Amanda L. Seymour, a traffic attorney in California, is sitting in the guest blogger’s chair today. She works with truckers to ensure that they don’t lose their licenses.
As an attorney, it is incredibly frustrating to tell a client, “I can’t help you.” However, what makes a situation more frustrating is to tell a client, “I can’t help you, but I could have if you had only called me sooner.”
Commercial drivers know how important their right to drive is. If they can’t drive, they can’t work. It is as simple as that. In addition to their ability to work, a clean driving record can even help them obtain better employment, as many companies will not hire a driver with a bad record. A clean driving record can even help a driver in court. Many courts are much more lenient on a driver with a clean record than they are if the driver has a lot of tickets on his record.
If you’re a commercial driver, a good traffic attorney can help you with almost any charge. In California, there are a lot of vehicle code sections that carry no points. Officers don’t write these sections because they either don’t know about them or because their bosses have told them not to. However, once you get into court, everything changes. A good traffic attorney knows how to talk to the officers and the court and can try to get you the best deal possible. But, you do have to help-you have to call that traffic attorney when you get your ticket!
By the time the Department of Motor Vehicles threatens to suspend your license, it is too late. I have talked to so many truckers lately who are going to be, or have been, suspended because they received too many points. And each one I have had to tell, “I can’t help you. It is too late.” However, I have also told each one, “I could have helped if you had called when you got that last ticket.”
I hear all the excuses:
“I couldn’t afford to hire an attorney so I just pleaded guilty.” Can you afford to not work for 6 months?
“I was guilty so I didn’t think I should fight the ticket.” That doesn’t mean there isn’t a charge out there that won’t carry a point.
The DMV is not going to stop a suspension. A DMV hearing only delays the suspension – it is going to happen. However, an attorney in court can possibly stop a suspension. Don’t lose your license and your job because you don’t want to pick up the phone.