I Am a Decade-and-a-Half-Old Criminal

22 Apr

I  have to renew my Florida driver’s license this year.  In fact, I think everyone in the state has to renew this year because they’ve changed over to some fancy new system.  I last had to renew my license in person in 2001 and I was a bit put out then because neither of my parents, both of which had lived in Florida for more than 15 years at that point, had never been called in to have their licenses renewed in person.  They’d simply received stickers to place on the back of their initially issued licenses and, dusting off hands, done.  I guess I’m special.

When you are called to renew your license in person in Florida, if you have ever in your life admitted that you’ve worn corrective lenses, you have to pay to get an eye exam done and have an affidavit filled out by a licensed ophthalmologist; the rest of the population gets to take a one-line look-in-a-box read-a-few-letters eye exam at the licensing bureau that costs them nothing.  I’m sure the Eye Doctor Association of Florida was behind that legislation.  This time around I wasn’t too put out about that, because I did need new glasses, having sat on mine, so about $250 later, I had that requirement covered.

I showed up at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) on Wednesday, per my on-line scheduled appointment, and got in line.  The woman checking in people with appointments immediately took exception with my 2 forms of proof of address, so I had to come up with 2 others.  Fortunately, I had my voter registration card with me and she accepted my checkbook as the second (what they really want is bills that have been mailed to your house, but I do everything electronically to “reduce  my carbon footprint” and don’t get paper copies mailed to me—something it will take decades for an entity like the DMV to come to terms with).  Then she wasn’t happy with my eye doctor’s affidavit because he hadn’t filled in his address and phone number; I told her I’d fill it in, simple fix, not the end of the world, which didn’t make her day but which she really had to accept.  However, in no way was anyone at the DMV going to lend me a bloody pen; the response was, “Yeah, I got a pen but I don’t let no one use it”!  A lovely lady waiting in line kindly let me touch hers for a few minutes and I gave it right back, not being a pen thief.  I’m a totally different class of criminal.

So, the receptionist finally gives me my number and sends me off to stand in another line.  At this point, I’m feeling sick and actually starting to think not having an appointment would have at least let me sit down for a while.  After standing in line for nearly 20 minutes, I finally make it to the dude who takes the picture and issues the new license.  He goes over all the paperwork the receptionist already reviewed, plus my birth certificate, and then tells me that Rhode Island suspended my driver’s license in 1995.

What?

Yes.  And if your license is suspended in one state, it’s suspended in all states.

Nice.  I’ve driven on a suspended license for the past 16 years and this is the first I hear about it.  Florida renewed my license in 2001, six years after this alleged suspension occurred, and it either didn’t matter then, they didn’t check, or they didn’t care, and I received an “illegal backing” ticket sometime after 1995, too, but I’m not getting a new license until I “resolve” the issue.  The dude gives me their non-toll free number and tells me “good luck, if you can get it fixed in twenty minutes, you can get back in line” in a nasty manner that lets me know, it ain’t happening sweetheart, score!

Now I’m really ill.  I’m late doing my infusion and my abdomen is hurting so bad I’m having a bit of trouble getting a full breath, but it took a hell of a lot of expensive gasoline to get to this pig sty of a DMV, so I sit down and dial RI Operator Control.  And wait and wait and wait.  Finally I lie and chose the option to cancel an imminent court date and have to talk to someone immediately, and I finally get an OC voice on the phone.

The OC voice tells me that my license was suspended because of a ticket.  I tell the OC voice that I haven’t been in Rhode Island since 1993 and that I never received a ticket while living in RI.  The OC voice doesn’t care.  The OC voice gives me a ticket number and the telephone number for the Ticket Tribunal, who will tell me what the ticket was for and how much I owe.  Once I pay the ticket, I must then send the OC $151.50 to have my Rhode Island driving privilege reinstated and the suspension removed.  Oh, and do be sure to include a self-addressed envelope for them to send the notice of reinstatement back to me.  WTF?

So I call the Ticket Tribunal and immediately a new voice, Stacey, answers.  No waiting; no gaming the phone system.  Whew!  I give her the ticket number and she immediately recognizes it as a University of Rhode Island parking ticket.  I tell her I never received RI ticket, much less a URI parking ticket and ask her the date.  It was issued in October 1994; I tell her I moved to Florida in September 1993.  She puts me on hold while she pulls the record, which says the ticket was issued to a four-door Toyota Camry; I tell her the plates were issued to a two-door Honda CRX that I sold to a co-worker in September 1993.  And then I realize what happened.

When I sold the CRX to Corey Hanson, he asked to keep the plates so he could drive the car to the RI DMV to register it.  Every private vehicle sale I’ve ever seen between people known to each other has been done this way and I agreed without hesitation.  And the asshole didn’t turn the plates in.   Ever.  And he let them be used on another vehicle that got ticketed.  What kind of creep does that to someone he knows?  A fucked up creep, that’s what kind of creep.

Eight years ago, a collection agency contacted me to collect unpaid license plate renewal fees (plus penalties) for (if I remember correctly) about 3 years.  It was at that point I first found out Mr. Asshole hadn’t turned in the plates.  The DMV couldn’t have cared less and neither could the collection agency.  It was my responsibility to have those plates turned in and I didn’t; case closed.  So I paid up and tried to find Mr. Fucked Up Creep.  Not to be found, but I had  his work email.  I thought he should reimburse me for at least half the cost, and if he was a stand-up dude, he would cough up the whole amount (upwards of $300).  Nary a peep.

So I paid the ticket on-line, but I don’t know if I’m going to be cleared off the National Driver Register before May 9th, when my suspended license expires.  I’m sure there’s some penalty to be paid if you have to renew your license after it expires.

I continue to pay for a kindly deed that turned out to be a costly error.

Being a criminal is so rewarding.  Not.

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