A Story Without Love

Posted on Sep 7, 2006

Unfortunately for all of us Virginia residents, our Department of Motor Vehicles is bereft of love.

The Setup

Today’s goal was to transfer the title of the car I’ve been driving for many years into my name. My parents were the previous owners, and they own the car outright.

They signed the title over to me quite some time ago. The task of transferring the title, getting new tags, and getting new insurance fell to me.

Upon my visit today, I was told that I needed to add the number of miles on the odometer to the title before the transfer. I went out to the car and did that, but wrote down the number incorrectly. Thinking that an accurate number was most important, I changed the “2” to a “1”.

I was then denied the ability to transfer the title based on this act. Even though the owners of the car had expressed their intent to sell the car to me, and I had indicated my intention to buy the car, the state would not allow the transaction to take place.

After pointing out that his insistence upon a correct number would only carry what one might call societal weight based on the purchaser’s (read: my) right to a fair bill of goods, and that I would be happy to waive that right and stipulate that the higher mileage figure was accurate. I was told the central office in the city of Richmond audits the odometer section for cross-outs, erasures, etc. and in case of an error of this nature is processed, the particular branch where I was making the request is penalized.

After pointing out that the number is not in error, and that my “service” representative could verify the mileage on the car easily right now, he said that fact was immaterial, as the car will not be available when the audit is being performed.

As a result, I will be unable to transfer the title until I send the title back to my parents for reverification. The title will have to go through the mail twice, and I will have to wait at the DMV again.

I am already one week past my registration deadline, although that, of course, is no fault of the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles but rather, tragically, my own ignorance.

The Sting

As this post’s namesake indicates, a story without love is not worth telling. So even though the aggravation is not yet over, you will see that there is reason and benevolence yet still.

I was stopped by a policeman while driving to work after this DMV debacle because my registration and plates had expired. Obviously, my next step was to give him a very abbreviated version of the story I have just shared with you here.

He gave me a warning for everything I still needed to do with the car. If I am stopped again, I will receive those tickets, which come to about $1,000 if I were to actually end up paying them. By listening to reason and giving me a chance, he ensured that the State of Virginia will get taxes on at least one additional week’s rental of an automobile.