‘Better Call Behnken’ helps woman after deceased boyfriend’s registration is renewed

(WFLA) – Florida’s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles took action Friday to revoke registration for a car, recently renewed in the name of a man murdered in Tampa last year.

“At least no one will be able to renew this vehicle ever again,” said Dale Hoffman, of Hillsborough County’s Tax Collector’s Office.

Meanwhile, the department is looking into a policy that would prevent this type of renewal. Closing that loophole would mean updating the state’s computer system for registrations so that it connects with the state database on deaths.

This all came to light because of an 8 On Your Side investigation into a complaint from Chelsie Mosley. She still does not have closure in the death of her boyfriend, Kirk Chang. A year later, his murder is unsolved. And Mosley is getting driving tickets in Chang’s name — complete with photos of his car driving around Hillsborough County.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” she said.

First, it was a red-light ticket. Then came a toll violation ticket. And Mosley is worried that if this car was used in a crime, police could show up at the home she shares with her two daughters.

8 On Your Side discovered that Chang’s 2004 Mitsubishi Galant had an expired registration last year after his death. Then, last month – one month before his birthday – his registration was renewed under his name for another year. This happened in Broward County. After that, the violations rolled in.

“How can someone that’s passed away get their plates re-registered?” Mosley asked.

Officials with the state Department of Motor Vehicles told 8 On Your Side anyone can renew anyone’s registration. It’s that way, they say, so family members can renew each other’s registration. But there’s nothing in the system to to alert officials if someone has died.

This is a real concern for Mosley, considering Chang’s murder is still not solved. His car, a 2004 Mistubishi Galant, was released to a family member after his death, so whoever renewed the registration is not linked to the car.

So how did this happen? Our 8 On Your Side investigation revealed two problems: The DMV system used for registrations does not list Chang as deceased, even though the system that tracks driver’s licenses does. Secondly, no identification is needed to renew someone’s registration. That means investigators have no leads on who actually walked into the office to renew the registration.

Mosley said she was told the only person who could do something to fix this situation is Chang.

“That is an unacceptable answer,” she said.

8 On Your Side contacted Tampa Police. Officials said detectives will check out this incident and will also flag this in their system so if Chang’s car is used in a crime, investigating officers will know about this situation before they show up at Mosley’s home.

Officials at the DMV are also reviewing why their system did not list Chang as deceased.

Meanwhile, the registration on Chang’s car is revoked. It cannot be valid again, until someone registers it in their own name.

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