Tire_bot_2 "I need help, I need help getting my vehicle registered," Barry Finch told me last week.  The problem: child support, not his, someone else’s.

Back track to August.  Finch bought a pickup and when he went to the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) to get his license plate and registration he was told that the previous owner owed back child support.  And because of that, he could not license the vehicle.  "And I kept  going to the DMV and they kept telling me no, you can’t get it today."

When Finch bought the truck, the owner gave him what Finch says was a "clear" title, it showed no bank liens.  What he didn’t know was that the Child Support Enforcement Office had placed a "hold" on the vehicle in an effort to get the owner to pay his child support.

"Since all this started, I’ve tried calling child support.  There is no response. I’ve been calling the guy for two months now every other week," says Finch.

Finch said he had been calling David Lowe, head of the child support office.  Lowe responded to a call from me saying he was unaware of Finch’s problem but that he would look into it right away, which he did.  The hold was taken off the vehicle and Finch got his plates.  "Yes, David Lowe  finally called me," Finch told me Tuesday.  "Of course, that was initiated by your call to him.  Thank you very much for being on my side.  It’s appreciated"

Lowe says that the law which allows holds to be placed on vehicles in an effort to collect child support is probably up to ten years old.  "It’s a good law in many ways in that it really does help children," Lowe says.  "If those who owes child support tries to renew their tags, they won’t be able to do it and he’ll be forced to pay."

Lowe does acknowledge that in Finch’s case, the law worked again an innocent bystander.  But Lowe believes a case like Finch’s is rare.  Still, he advises that if you’re involved in a private sale, that you check out the possibility of a child support hold beforehand.  He says you can call the Chatham County Tax Commissioner’s office at 912-652-6800. Lowe says you can use the vehicle’s VIN number to gather information you need. 

While Lowe says what happened to Finch really doesn’t happen that often, Finch isn’t so sure.  He thinks the law should be changed, at least to protect the innocent.  "I would hate to see another person in the situation I was in for several months," he says.  "You put out good money to buy a vehicle and then you can’t drive it."

SOURCE: JoAnn Merrigan at WSAV.com