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What is a Vehicle Affidavit?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 29 November 2016
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A vehicle affidavit is a sworn legal legal statement pertaining to a motor vehicle. One of the most common types of vehicle affidavit is a document testifying that a vehicle has clearly been abandoned, authorizing law enforcement agencies to have the vehicle towed and processed. Such documents can be filed by law enforcement, vehicle owners, and other interested parties, and may be filed with the department of motor vehicles for the purpose of maintaining complete and accurate records of a vehicle's history.

Any situation where a vehicle is repossessed, whether by a lender, law enforcement, or another party, usually requires an affidavit documenting the circumstances and asserting the right to take the vehicle. Vehicle affidavits may also be needed for people registering vehicles under special circumstances. For example, a car registered as nonoperative for a reduced registration fee would need an affidavit testifying to the fact that the vehicle will not be operated, and other special registrations like hobby car registrations may also require affidavits.

When vehicles are seized as part of a law enforcement operation, affidavits are filed to document the seizure. The person performing the seizure describes the vehicle, documents why, when, and where it was seized, and signs the vehicle affidavit to indicate that the seizure was conducted in accordance with legal procedure. These documents can also be used when people need to sell a car without a title, with the owner testifying to legal ownership of the vehicle in order to enact a smooth transfer.

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In transactions or situations where a vehicle affidavit is required, it is common to be able to use a generic form developed for the purpose. State departments of motor vehicles often have forms needed by general members of the public, while law enforcement agencies have their own forms for their activities, as do people like lenders who need to seize vehicles for nonpayment of loans. It is also possible to draft a vehicle affidavit from scratch, as long as people take care to include all the necessary legal details.

Multiple copies of a vehicle affidavit are usually required, depending on the circumstances. People who receive copies of an affidavit or make copies of a document they have filled out should store them in a safe place so they will be available if there are questions or a dispute in the future. Keeping clear records can help resolve problems very quickly, especially when the records include backup documentation like receipts of sale and so forth.

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