Court-Imposed Deadline for National Auto Fraud Database Will Save Lives, Keep Defective Vehicles Off the Road

Sept. 23, 2008

Court-Imposed Deadline for National Auto Fraud Database Will Save Lives, Keep Defective Vehicles Off the Road

Statement of Deepak Gupta, Attorney, Public Citizen*

The 16-year wait for a national database that will allow car buyers to determine whether a vehicle has been stolen or rebuilt after a wreck is almost over. In an emphatic victory for consumers, U.S. Judge Marilyn Hall Patel ruled Monday that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has until Jan. 30 to make this information available to consumers.

Public Citizen, Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, and Consumer Action sued the DOJ in February, saying that the agency’s unlawful delay in implementing the database was putting consumers at risk. The National Motor Vehicle Title Information System will help consumers avoid purchasing a potentially dangerous used car by allowing them to instantly check the validity of the car’s title and mileage and learn whether it had been stolen or was a junk or salvage vehicle.

In setting a deadline to implement the database, Patel rejected the DOJ’s request to dismiss the suit.

We applaud the judge’s decision to hold the government’s feet to the fire. When Congress passed a law in 1992 calling for the database, no one expected it to take this long to deliver such critical information to consumers. During that time, countless people have unwittingly purchased rebuilt or stolen vehicles. We are thrilled that today’s ruling forces DOJ, finally, to implement what Congress demanded so many years ago.

The court’s decision in this case will save lives.

READ the case documents.

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