Ask A Trooper: How can a seller protect self in event of crash before transfer of title?

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Question: If I sell my vehicle to a private party, what do you recommend I do to protect myself in the event the new owner gets into a crash or is arrested prior to them transferring the title into their name? Answer: This can be an issue for you if the vehicle you sold is ever involved in a hit and run or pursuit and the driver flees the scene. Law enforcement may be contacting the registered owner in an attempt to locate that person who was driving. There are steps that will help protect you as the seller or buyer of a vehicle from a private party. When you sell a vehicle, you (owner/seller) are responsible to file the "Notice of Sale" within ten days of the sale. This is located in the lower portion of the Certificate of Title. By doing this in a timely manner, this protects you and helps law enforcement by having access to the most current registered owner information in the event that your vehicle's license plates are entered for any reason. Also, create some type of receipt that has the buyer's information recorded on it and date of sale and keep this document so you have proof on when you sold that vehicle and to whom. This brings up the importance of transferring the vehicle title as soon as possible when purchasing a vehicle from a private party. Minnesota state law says that you have to transfer the vehicle's title within 10 days of the date of sale, other than a sale by or to a licensed motor vehicle dealer. New residents have a 60-day grace period in which to register their cars, passenger vans, 3/4 ton or less pickups, motorcycles, utility trailers, or house trailers as long as the displayed license plates are current. If your registration expires before the 60-day grace period is up, you must obtain Minnesota registration at the time of expiration. For additional information visit: dps.mn.gov/divisions/dvs/forms-documents/documents/buyingorsellingmotorvehicle_just_the_facts.pdf A portion of state statutes were used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes. If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota, send your questions to Trp. Jesse Grabow — Minnesota State Patrol at 1000 Highway 10 West, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501-2205. (You can follow him on Twitter @MSPPIO_NW or reach him at, jesse.grabow@state.mn.us).