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Dealers' Day Off, Depending

Blue Laws and Day-of-Rest Rules Limit Sunday Car-Buying

By Kathy Lally
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, October 31, 2004; Page F05

If you're thinking of shopping for a new car this weekend, here's some advice: Call first.

Because if you are looking for a car in the Washington area on a weekend, you're going to have to steer clear of Virginia's "day of rest" requirements, which allow car salesmen to declare "Never on Sunday" if they so choose.

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And you'll also have to map out Maryland's "blue laws," which deem it morally permissible to sell cars in Howard, Montgomery and Prince George's counties on Sundays but find it a violation of the Sabbath to sell them in the other 21 jurisdictions.

It took me some time to figure this out after a reader asked: Why can't you buy a car on Sunday?

I put the question to one representative of an automobile dealers association who came close to telling me I didn't know what I was talking about. Drive down Rockville Pike on a Sunday, he insisted, and you'll find it's a very busy day for car sales.

So I started calling auto dealers in Montgomery County, who assured me that of course they were open on Sunday.

Then I called Brown's Honda City in Glen Burnie in Anne Arundel County, which assured me that of course it was not open.

"We're closed," salesman Tim Eubank told me. "Everyone knows we're closed. It's the blue law. We don't have a choice."

Come to Honda City on Saturday or Monday, Eubank said, but not on Sunday. Shop online 24 hours a day, he said. All you have to do is visit the Web site to see what's in stock. You can even figure out the value of your trade-in with the Kelley Blue Book on the Web, on a Sunday. But whatever you do, don't expect to find a salesman on the lot on that day.

When I called David Reynolds at Alexandria Toyota, he assured me that you can bet on the dealership being open every Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. "It's customer service, 100 percent," he said. "They expect to be able to shop on Sunday. It can be a busy day for us."

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