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The Journal Gazette

Thursday, August 10, 2017 1:00 am

Expired plates, missed post card costly oversight

FRANK GRAY | The Journal Gazette

I had to go to the license branch the other day.

Time was, that was one of the most dreaded experiences a Hoosier had to undergo, and we all had to go to a local Bureau of Motor Vehicles branch every year to get our plates or renew a license.

Things have changed. I walked into the Waynedale branch and the place was packed.

I groaned. I'd be stuck in the place for the rest of the day, I figured.

But it didn't work like that. Though there were at least 30 people ahead of me, I had to wait only about 20 minutes.

The real story here, though, is why I had to go the branch. I had to renew my license plates because they had expired last May, and I didn't realize it.

I mentioned to the clerk that I apparently didn't get the usual paperwork from the state this year.

Well, I was told, a lot of people are realizing their plates have expired because the state didn't send out those familiar forms that tell you what you owe about a month before the plates expire.

Instead, the state sent out post cards.

I don't recall getting any post cards. I guess at home we ignore things like that. A lot of our mail goes into the trash unopened, though I suppose we should shred it to be safe, but that involves buying a shredder.

The real story is how I realized my plates had become invalid three months ago.

I had to go to court – because of my job, not me – the other day, so I parked on a parking meter downtown.

After a couple of hours in court, I sneaked out to feed the meter. I'm sick of getting parking tickets.

I was just in time, too. There was only six minutes left on the meter.

But I'd gotten a ticket.

I found the parking meter attendants across the street and told them what was going on: I got a ticket, but there's still six minutes on the meter.

The parking enforcement guy asked me which car was mine. I pointed it out, and he said, oh, that's because your plates are expired.

That's not possible, I said, it just can't be. But we walked back to the car and I got my registration out (I have about 17 of them in the glove box), and indeed it was expired.

Well, he said, you probably just got busy and forgot.

Then I looked at the ticket. The fee is $100.

That made me unhappy. $100 is outrageous, but the fact is, my plates were expired.

I've concocted a way of making sure this never happens again. I'll never park on a parking meter again.

Plus I'll remember to renew my plates.

But if the state is going to use post cards, perhaps they should use cards that look like a license plate and have “Expired” boldly printed on them in red.

Frank Gray reflects on his and others' experiences in columns published Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. He can be reached by phone at 461-8376, fax at 461-8893, or email at fgray@jg.net. You can also follow him on Twitter @FrankGrayJG.