The Road to World Conquest: Crime may not pay, but at least it’s not extorting me like being a good guy
I’m breaking the law.
My Alabama license plate expired at the end of July after we moved back to Durham, North Carolina. I’ve been trying to get new NC plates since we got here, but suffice to say that this has been…challenging.
Last week, I reported to the DMV with my old NC license plate, my Alabama car title (which I had just received after getting my Alabama plate in March), and a checkbook to cover the cost of the new tag. The amiable old man behind the counter looked up my license plate number and informed me that Wake County had a tax block on reissuing a tag. Apparently, I owed some money to the county from 2010. He didn’t know how much. Also, the system seemed to think that my GEICO car insurance had been cancelled, so I would need to bring in a Form FS-1, which I would have to request from the insurance company.
That day, I called the tax office and discovered that I owed about $6 somehow. Paid it immediately, removing the tax block. I called GEICO and requested the FS-1 so that it could be mailed to me.
Yesterday, the FS-1 form arrived. I had everything I needed!
This morning, I jumped in the Juicebox. When I got to the tag office, however, I realized that I had brought everything except the FS-1 form. Not to worry. Luckily, I live just a few blocks from the DMV. I drove back home, snatched the form from the box on the kitchen counter, and then made my way back to the mall.
The clerk this time was a kindly middle-aged woman with bleached blonde hair who took my old NC tag, my driver’s license, my GEICO FS-1 form, and my Alabama title. She started filling out a form on the DMV computer. Then she told me that because I hadn’t turned my tag in after moving to Alabama, and because the system showed my insurance as being cancelled, I would have to pay a $100 fine for driving without insurance before I could get a valid plate.
I’ve had car insurance the entire time. However, I shifted it to the state of Alabama after moving there.
“Can I make that fine go away if I can demonstrate that I’ve been insured the entire time?” I asked. “Because I have. My coverage never lapsed.”
“Oh, sure, you can do that,” she said. “You’ll need to get an FS-1 form from your insurance company.”
I pointed to the one on her desk. “Already did that, didn’t I?”
“That’s not for the right date,” she replied. “You have to get one that proves you had coverage on 1/22/11.”
“Really not making this easy for me,” I said.
“At least you’ll save the hundred dollars,” she said.
“Maybe,” I said. “Can I get a temporary tag?”
“Not without that form.”
“So maybe I’ll save $100, but maybe I’ll have to pay a fine for driving with an expired tag,” I said.
“I don’t know how much that would be,” she said. “I’m not a police officer.”
I checked the web. Non-moving violation fines like that can cost up to $500, but it’s probably more in the neighborhood of $150.
Now I’m back to square one. Gotta call GEICO again, swim through the bureaucracy, and snag a different FS-1.
It shouldn’t be such a hassle to try to be a good guy.