The jurisdiction is Washington State, the specific situation is the purchase of a vintage automobile that had been abandoned. The vehicle was not running at the time, and had no title or registration.
I had the Department of Licensing run a search which came back with no results, but they only claim to go back 7 years. The next step is to trailer it to the State Patrol for a VIN inspection, and this is the part that is causing trouble...
I have made a good faith effort on multiple occasions to schedule an inspection through their website, but due to shut downs of this service during Covid and chronic staffing shortages that they mention on the site, there has NEVER been an appointment available whenever I have checked. This has gone on for several years now. Their website doesn't support getting your request into a queue, and I don't have the computer skills to automate the process of checking for openings so I have almost resigned myself to not trying anymore.
Question: Given that the state has mandated that vehicles be registered, and that to be registered one must have a title, and that to obtain a title in the event of loss/abandonment a vehicle must be inspected, what is the state's obligation to provide a means to comply when every reasonable attempt has been exhausted? In other words, at what point does the government's inability to effectively administer a program become an unreasonable restriction on personal liberty?
- Is there a legal concept or term for this, or for a valid defense strategy that could be made if reasonable and good faith attempts to comply could be demonstrated? (i.e. a Latin phrase comparable to "mens rea", etc.)
What other remedies might be available?
- I have considered proceeding with the restoration, and drafting an "Affidavit in lieu of registration" document detailing my numerous attempts to follow the process, and indicating a sincere desire to comply, but my concern would be having the vehicle impounded if/when I get pulled over.
- I have even considered asking local law enforcement to just issue me a citation so that I might appear in court and plead for an opportunity to be given the means to comply. (i.e. move to the head of the line...)
- I have also considered writing to my state representative. Are there any other preemptive actions that might help get this situation "unstuck"?
- Is there a statute of limitations for asserting ownership that might alleviate my concerns about proceeding with the project?