Saturday, August 12

Who Wrote Florida's Private-party Auto Sales Law?

I guess I'm all for saving paper, but I'm also in favor of saving headaches and hassles. That's why I have to wonder who wrote the laws governing private-party auto sales in Florida. Probably not anyone who has ever sold his own car. My guess would be the auto dealers because selling your own car is more of a headache than it needs to be.

Fine, I'm sure part of the intent of the law was to save paper by encouraging Floridians to house their electronic titles online with the state. The DMV guy told me it was safer that way. I guess, but most people don't break into your home to steal your jewelry and car title. Maybe if you have a really sweet car, but that's not 99% of us. Also, I'm pretty sure the Florida DMV sold my email address to the highest bidder based on junk email I received after I moved here, so there's that.

Fine, I don't have a physical title to my car, but it's mine, and I can sell it whenever I want. Nope. If you opted for the e-title, you need to sell your car at the DMV (tax collector's office). You know, that place you never want to go to. Florida expects you to show up with the buyer and your identifications and do the whole deal right there while in line for several hours. Right there where the counter employee can see how much money really changes hands so that you can be taxed appropriately. I'm sure that's how the legislature passed this law, believing it would cut down on all that tax-evasion by dishonest private-party sellers. And it has, mostly by attrition, as in very few people who have an e-title ever sell their cars in the prescribed manner. I was told by a counter employee that the younger generation is cool with selling cars at the DMV, as they are used to meeting at police stations or mall parking lots to sell their stolen iPads.

I bet Florida WAS a haven for guys buying cars at auctions with their uncles' dealer licenses and then selling the cars under their girlfriends' names. Back when Craigslist still existed. And those guys should have gotten busted, I agree. But most of us just want to have the right to sell our own car on a Sunday to some guy from church who just totaled his car and needs a new one, and with cash that no one should be flashing around the DMV.

Of course, dealers have full access to the electronic system, so the complete and utter inconvenience of completing a private-party vehicle purchase is super-easy at a dealership. It's probably built in to the "Dealer Fee." Let me tell you about Florida dealerships, however. Two sold me cars that would not have passed an inspection (if we did them) and one sold me a new car that was really a demonstrator. And those were all reputable ones. They generally pay wholesale (trade or auction), kick the tires, sell at retail, and then add $1,000 in dealer fees. And they've partnered with the state to ensure buying and selling our own cars is too much of a hassle to bother.

You know, I'd be fine with the system if it also ensured all drivers had insurance, but that's obviously not happening. One dealership did take care of a recall for me before they would hand over the car, so that's one positive, I guess. Also, when my car was totaled, I didn't have to fish around the house for a paper title because insurance companies can apparently also access the e-title -- just not the owner. Yes, you can order your paper title. I don't think it was a significant fee, but I decided against it (again) because I somehow want to believe an electronic title is sufficient. And it probably is for most of us, most of the time.

Anyhow, if you are an impulse seller or like undercutting the government on taxes, then be sure to get the paper version of your title.

Who Do You Know Causing Trouble in Jax? Summer 2023 Edition

I was going through some recent neighbor posts of suspected thefts and other naughty activities, so I figured why not link out to the photos that have been shared so that the faces of those who are innocent until never arrested can be fresh in everyone's mind. Most of these people "probably" stole stuff. Most of them will get away with it. I guess contact JSO if you know who someone is in the photos.

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