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© 2004 The Beast

Vol.1: Curse of the Phantom Speeding Ticket

by Jonathon Chance

Once again, the late great State of New York has proven its utter incompetence within the halls of the Department of Motor Vehicles.

As I was driving down Lake Shore Road in Angola on my way to work a couple months ago, my missing tail light caught the attention of one of the fine officers of the Evans Police Department. Officer Friendly was nice enough until he ran my license, and found that it was revoked. Being that this was the first I had heard of it, I went to the DMV to find out why I wasnít allowed to drive in the first place, why they hadnít even bothered to inform me of the decision to suspend my driving privileges, and what I needed to do to correct this blunder.

I was informed that I had violated our stateís speeding laws on three separate occasions in the last 18 months. They claimed that they had indeed sent me a letter advising me of this well-deserved punitive action, however it was sent to an address that I hadnít lived at in over two years, so I never received it. I was then advised that I would have to pay a twenty-five dollar reinstatement fee in order to restore my driving privileges within our fair state. I shrugged, produced my wallet, and began shelling out cash when I was informed that they could not accept the payment at the local office; instead I would have to send it with an application, and a mushy letter saying that I had indeed learned from my transgressions, to the Department of Driver Improvement in Albany.

I supposed I deserved this, as I had apparently been a vicious offender of our more than fair Vehicle and Traffic Laws, so I went home, wrote a letter from the bottom of my bleeding heart, enclosed a money order for twenty-five dollars, mailed it off to the Department of Driver Impairment, and sat on my butt for a couple of weeks and twiddled my thumbs. I assumed I would receive some sort of an acknowledgement that they had received my money, and had restored my undeserved privileges of driving in this fine and just state, but after almost a month, nothing came. I decided I needed to make a phone call to make sure it was okay for me to again get behind the wheel.

Upon calling the DMV, I was advised that they had in fact received my payment on the 14th of July (it was now August 10th), but they were currently working on the reinstatement applications they had received on May 30th, and since they processed them in the order they were received, they wouldnít be able to consider my plea for clemency for at least another month and a half. Apparently, when the DMV told me I just had to pay a fee and write a letter, they failed to mention that that was money just to get them to think about restoring my license, and that there was no guarantee that they actually would.

I was SLIGHTLY upset at this point, as I was having friends drive me to work being that there is no public transportation where I live, or where I work. So I vented my feelings to a couple of my closest acquaintances. One of them asked me when and where I had gotten the three speeding tickets that had started this whole mess, and I listed off the first two, and then stopped. I couldnít recall getting a third ticket. I pounded my head on the wall trying to remember getting another ticket, and even searched through my checkbook for the last three years looking for where I had paid another fine, but found nothing.

The following morning, I called DMV back and apologetically asked them to fill in the gaps in my memories. I was amused to find that the third ticket that I had allegedly received was a duplicate of the second ticked. Someone at DMV had typed the ticket in twice, and because of that, I couldnít drive. I said to the kind and compassionate lady, ďso I guess this means you corrected the problem, and I can drive now, right?Ē The response I got floored me. Apparently, since I sent in this gushy letter repenting of my sins, they assumed that they were right, and somewhere along the line I must have received a REAL third ticket that hadnít been reported, so I still had to wait for Driver Improvement to forgive my sins and restore my right to drive.

After further discussions with the friendly but less than helpful lady at DMV, I found that the delay was because they receive twenty to thirty applications a day similar to mine, and they just donít have the staff to process them quickly, yet apparently, this is the only job of this entire department. Now, while I was talking with her, it took her all of thirty seconds to pull up my entire driving history, find when my letter was received, and tell me when to expect a decision. So here is the question that I have, that no one seems to be able to answer. How long does it take to make each decision? Do they put each letter and application through a committee meeting to decide if the letter was truly repentant? They claim to issue restorations on a case by case basis, but who is it that actually determines if I was too bad to allow driving again? Do they read each letter, consume some coffee and donuts, flip a coin a few times, and then take a break before going on to the next application? If they are receiving thirty letters a day, why should it take more than a few minutes to make a decision on each application?

I have been moved to many different places throughout the country, and admittedly, I have a lead foot. I can think of at least 5 other states that I personally have had to deal with on matters regarding my driverís license, and can account for another ten through conversations with friends and coworkers. In any other state I have been in, once the fines are paid, and receipts are turned in, I have never had to wait for more than twenty-four hours for a license restoration, until now.

New York State has once again proven that they are doing everything in their power to force the good working people to move away, or go on welfare. I am fortunate that my coworkers live close to me, and are understanding of my problems. I know of others that arenít as fortunate. I personally know of three people who have been driven to welfare because of similar situations, and have heard of many other cases through friends and family. I have even given consideration to moving out of state, and taking my tax money with me. Now I understand why we are one of the few places in the country to have a declining population and tax base, but thatís a topic for another day.

So here I sit, on my pile of ashes, waiting for forgiveness for sins I havenít committed, and contemplating the reasons I moved back to this Godforsaken area to begin with, and hoping that my boss remembers to pick me up on his way to work.

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