Delaware Drivers Getting Booted For Unpaid Tickets That Aren't Theirs

It can be annoying to get mail for your home’s previous tenant, or phone calls intended for a person who had your phone number years earlier. But when you get a new license plate from your state’s DMV, you don’t expect that you’ll have to answer for someone else’s unpaid parking tickets.

But some drivers in Delaware (Home of Tax-Free Shopping) say they found their cars booted because their new license plates were still tied to parking violations from drivers who had used those plates in the past.

“I went through bureaucratic hell,” one driver tells CBS Philadelphia about the four months he spent trying to convince the city of Wilmington, the DMV and the company that booted his new Audi, that he doesn’t actually owe anyone $435. “The system is broken all the way around.”

The same thing also happened to this man’s fiancee just a few weeks ago, when she found her car booted over $380 in tickets that weren’t hers.

After CBS got involved, it became apparent that what was happening was that the Delaware DMV is recycling license plate numbers without running them through any sort of system to see if there are unpaid violations associated with those numbers. So it’s like a bad-luck lottery you’re playing every time you get a new plate.

Since the DMV isn’t likely to change its policy, the City of Wilmington tells CBS it will now tell parking enforcement officers to check make, model and VIN before booting any car.

“We should have now the correct vehicle, the correct license plate, and the correct record,” a rep for the city explains.

3 On Your Side: Delaware Parking Ticket Nightmare [CBS Local]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.