Saturday, April 26, 2008

Fun at the DMV - Part Two

We have two classic cars. Mustangs both. A 1969 and a 1970. The state of Texas, is pretty good with classic and antique cars. Once a car is twenty five years old, you can declare it an antique. This does a few things. You can get a Antique Vehicle plate from the state. OR, what I’ve done, is gotten original 1969 and 1970 Texas plates to put on the cars. Just like when they were brand new. What I had to do was purchase a set at a swap meet, take them over to the regional office for inspection. Then, you pay the fee and are good. The neat things are, the plate is good for five years! Not just one. Plus, you don’t have to do the yearly state safety inspection. The downside is, you are not supposed to be using the vehicle every day for work. If you do like I do and have original plates, the state issues you a small galvanized metal tag. On it, they stick on a “trailer” type sticker, which is really their license number. I did this for 10 or 15 years without any issues.

This year, 2008, the antique plates across the state, all expired at the end of March. Around the middle of February, I realized that I’d NOT gotten the renewal notice from the state. Odd, in that I’ve been doing this for years and we have not moved. I called up a friend with an old car, and he had gotten his renewal in January. I called up the main county office and didn’t get half of my question out when the lady told me the steps I’d need to take. I think the state messed up and didn’t mail out all the notices. She tells me to take the VIN number, the old number, my check and head to any of their offices to renew the plates. Translation, welcome to the LINE! I start planning my urban assult on the DMV. I gather up the metal plates, with the STATES numbers on them. I get my proof of insurance and I note the VIN on them. I find that the office is open late on Tuesdays, so plan to leave work and get there before 5 PM, leaving lots of time.

I enter the DMV on a rainy Tuesday and am only the second person in line! I await my turn. When it is my turn, I approach the lady and explain that I’ve got not one, but two antiques. I’m not half way through my speech, and her eyes have widened and are looking to start spinning any minute. She tries to “look this up” for about two minutes and gives up. She starts to gather up all my information and tells me she has to get the supervisor to help. She heads back to the super’s desk and they sit there staring at the computer screen and shuffling papers for about five minutes. She then tells me the classic “well, I’ve got good news and bad”. The short version is, the VIN on the 1970 is good and they can issue a new metal tag and number. The bad news is, the VIN on the 1969 isn’t in the computer, the metal tag number THAT THE STATE ISSUED JUST FIVE YEARS BACK, can’t be used to look up information. And, those 1969 Texas plates? The RRK-nn’s? Plates like those were NEVER ISSUED BY THE STATE. Frightening that this agency is tracking anything. I tell her to do all she can for the 1970 and I’d be back. She completes the transaction for the 1970 and I get a new tag and numbers. She points out that the NEW way, has the expiration on it, March, 2013. One corner of the tag, has a partial VIN, one corner has the original plate number and the other corner has their new tracking number, which is used to tie the car, the original plate, and the new number, to the car and myself. Great, why wasn’t this being done for the last 10 years!

I head home. I take the original 1969 license plates off the car. I check the VIN and realize the problem started with the insurance card! The VIN is one digit off. That explains why they declared the car, which has been in Texas since 1975, didn’t exist. I call up the insurance and they correct the VIN and email over new proof cards. I then run up to our bank and crack into the safety deposit box and get the Texas Title to the car, which they said didn’t exist. So I have in hand, a title to a car they didn’t think existed, the metal 1969 license plates, that they didn’t think existed. Proof of insurance with the correct VIN, the original state issued tag (Not that it did any good, as they’d destroyed all knowledge of that). I present myself back to the DMV, wait in line for just one or two people, and get a new clerk. Again, I get half way through my presentation of the facts, when her eyes DO start rolling around like a slot machine and she stammers out that she needs her supervisor. She gathers up the plates, the title and other bits of paper and heads over to the supervisor. They click on the computer for about two minutes and both return to me. The supervisor remembers me and questions her own sanity at not finding the car. I explain the digit mix up on the proof of insurance. AHH! She says. She tells the clerk how to enter all this information, the plates (yes, they DO exist), the VIN (Yes, the car DOES exist). Once the clerk is busy printing off paper, the supervisor explains that in the last five years, the state has redone the antique plates and most of the old information was trashed.

So after about an hour and a half, I head back to the bank to put the title back into the safety box, I head home with the original plates to put back on, plus a new “tag” good for five more years.

No comments: