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Catch 22 

Arroyo Grande

So ‘they’ hooked up the DMV computers now so gross repeat offenders guilty of DUI, hit and run, and other such violations can be tracked and held accountable.  Good news, right?  Think again.  What if one of the states decides to abuse the system to make up for lost revenue in tough economic times? What protection is there from one state causing other states to spend excessive amounts of money chasing down fines for minor offenses?  Still worse, what if one state decides to use the system to pursue something so outlandish as simple administration fees?  Would any state bureaucracy ever consider doing such an underhanded thing to such a well-intentioned system?  Not a serious question, obviously, but here’s a case in point.  My wife received a letter from the California DMV only 12 days before her license expired on her birthday this year.  The letter stated that her license would be cancelled in 30 days because her license had been suspended or revoked by the State of Pennsylvania.  She lived in Pennsylvania for a few months in 1992.  After calling Pennsylvania we learned that they are asking for a $25 reinstatement fee on a license that she has not carried in more than 16 years.  There were no unresolved violations, no pattern of abuse, she simply moved out of the state and never reinstated her license.  They flat out refuse to release the cancellation of her California license unless the fee is paid, even though she has no intention of ever returning.  The state of California has sent nasty letters to us and halted sending a new license that we already paid for via the California DMV online renewal program.  The action left a long-time resident and taxpaying homeowner (whom has not had a single violation on her California license, ever!) without legal ID.  The letters caused us to spend fruitless hours on the phone with the DMV.  We wrote letters to the Governor of California on down and have received responses from their staff who must have devoted time and therefore public money—they don’t make minimum wage up at the capital, you know.  I’m driving my wife to work every day. She can’t cash checks and can’t make credit-card purchases because her license is expired. Oh, and now she is required to take both the written and road test again at her own expense.  I know, just pay the fee:  We probably will and I’m sure the person who started the wheels in motion is counting on that sad response.  I just want to say that I know we all mean well when we ask Congress to do things like hooking up the DMV systems to each other but it would serve well us to remember that we are not a single entity but rather a collection of entities under one roof.  There is an unlimited supply of good reasons why we are and should stay independent states, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

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