Consumer Groups Sue DOJ to Compel Vehicle Title Database

Claiming that consumers are at risk of purchasing dangerous used cars and trucks becaues they cannot instantly check the validity of their titles, mileage, and whether they were stolen, junked, or salvaged, a group of consumer groups headed by Public Citizen filed a lawsuit Feb. 6 against the U.S. Department of Justice to compel it create a national database. Congress ordered this more than 15 years ago,  Public Citizen, Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety,, and Consumer Action allege, but it has not been done.

Public Citizen, et al. v. Michael Mukasey, Attorney General was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The groups want the court to order find DOJ has violated the Administrative Procedures Act and order it to create of the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System.

"People's lives are at risk because they are buying used cars that are missing air bags or have other critical safety defects due to their hidden histories as junked or salvaged vehicles," said Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook. "How much longer will consumers have to wait before the federal government delivers what Congress asked for in 1992?" She referred to a 1992 law that called for the national database; Congress shifted responsibility for establishing it to DOJ in 1996 because the U.S. Department of Transportation had failed to make headway, according to Public Citizen's news release. The lawsuit and statements from some consumers who allege they unknowingly bought salvaged vehicles are available at www.citizen.org.

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