Anderson County man waits for months for permanent license plate


When you buy a used car either through a dealership or a private seller, you need to apply for a car registration. Dealers or private sellers are not allowed to sell cars without a clear title. A retired service worker has been driving with temporary tags for nearly a year.

Dealer drive-out tags, or temporary tags, are usually placed in the back window while the license plate and registration is on order. Under Tennessee law, most dealers are given a couple of months to get a permanent license plate to the vehicle’s owner. That didn’t happen for Vernie Foust and the state is investigating the dealer who sold the truck.

Foust has had good luck with the used truck he bought late last December, but in driving the 2014 Chevrolet Colorado, he’s had bad luck in getting a license plate for it. He bought the pickup at a used car lot once owned by Ray Viles, Jr. on Clinton Highway in Knoxville. When Foust visited last December, he was greeted by Ray Viles,. Sr.

“Showed me around. I seen this truck and it caught my eye. He gave me the keys and said, ‘Go try it out.” I said, ‘Might as well,'” Foust said.

He bought the truck on December 30. The selling price was just over $10,000. He paid $91 for title and registration and more than $1,500 for a service contract, or warranty.

“He gave me all them papers and I took it for granted that I would get my tags,” Foust said.

Foust never got his permanent tag, so he returned to the used car lot around the end of February.

“Weren’t nobody there and they were pulling the cars. Everything was empty,” he said.

He’s had multiple drive-out tags ever since.

“The truck stayed here for two months, didn’t even drive it. I thought, holy smokes. I’m going to scratch around. So, I went to Anderson County [and got temporary tags],” he said. “She said, ‘I don’t know how long we can do it. I said, ‘I’m needing my truck.'”

Vicky Foust has tried to help her dad.

“I called Ray Senior. He said he’d do what he could to keep him in drive tags until they could get his permanent tags,” she said.

That hasn’t happened.

The Tennessee Secretary of State’s website shows Ray Viles Used Cars’ license is inactive and has been revoked. Foust got a loan from Enrichment Federal Credit Union.  Enrichment says what happened to Foust is very unusual.

“I’ve been here for 23 years. We’ve never had this circumstance,” said Felicia Langley, one of Enrichment’s chief lending agents.

As a regular customer, the credit union gave Foust the loan and expected his tag to be delivered within 60 days.

“At the end of the two month period, we realized that we had not received a title so we contacted counsel because Mr. Viles had gone out of business. Our attorneys are working with the state of Tennessee, with the anti-theft division right now to try to obtain him a bonded title. In doing that it will help Mr. Foust get a permanent tag and a registration,” said Langley. “We were told we are one document away from being able to get this bonded title.”

Enrichment has reimbursed Foust out-of-pocket expenses for all those drive-out tags. Neither Ray Viles, Jr. or Ray Viles, Sr. were available for comment.

Temporary drive-out tags allow you to operate your vehicle for up to 30 days while waiting for your Tennessee tags. Under most circumstances, the dealer has 60 days to acquire the papers.

The title to Foust’s truck is in Vermont, not Tennessee, one of the reasons why an attorney from the credit union is involved in this complicated case.

The car lot once owned by Ray Viles has no relation or affiliation with Viles Automotive Group, a used car dealership operated by a Gary Viles in Powell. 

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