Monday, March 1, 2010

Johnny Scofflaw Wilts Beneath the Pressure of Three Combined Bureaucracies

I may have mentioned during my road trip that I got pulled over and ticketed for speeding near Hays, Kansas in July. Well, clever me, moving to Pennsylvania, I promptly lost the ticket in a car chaotically packed with all of my worldly possessions and only thought about it one more time when I made a feeble effort to pay the ticket online at the Ellis County, Kansas website, which surprise has no high-end web functionality in place to support online payments.

Thus stymied, I forget about it and went on with life in Pennsylvania which included applying for a local driver's license. Which I finally got around to in October.

Before that, I got a Colorado driver's license in 2003 that wouldn't expire (in theory) until 2013. That was an awesome thing. It kept me out of the notorious California DMV for the ~5 years I spent on the West Coast and ensured I got the ultra-cool local's discount at bars in Aspen.

So sadly I departed with the myth of my Colorado life and registered in Philadelphia and officially returned to the grid by dint of having a driver's license and voter registration card at the same address where I'm paying taxes this year. This is the bureaucrats trap.

From time to time over the greater part of the last decade, it occurred to me that I might be in some kind of slow-burning administrative trouble since I was carrying a driver's license that reported my residence in a mountain-top condo in Snowmass, Colorado, while I only really lived there for 3 months in 2003. I imagined increasingly urgent summons to jury duty, now subpoenas and arrest warrants for contempt of court amid collection notices piling up in an unopened PO Box in Pitkin County while I led my double-life blithe and elsewhere.

Sometimes you expect a comeuppance, you roll the dice, envision an improbable, slightly-ridiculous arrest while on a ski-vacation with my kids in 15 years. That would have been more fun than what happened.

February of this year, I've had my PA driver's license for 4 months now and I'm feeling like I've beat the system again, (i.e., skating on the Kansas traffic ticket) when an unexpected string of instra-state cooperation produces a letter from the Commonwealth in my mailbox.

It informs that me that I have one month to resolve my differences with the State of Colorado, who has revoked my driving privileges pending my resolution of the traffic violation I received and neglected to pay in Kansas.

Unwinding this knot requires that I settle the fine with Kansas, get a note of resolution on Ellis County letterhead and send that in with a check for $95 to the State of Colorado who will then issue a Letter of Clearance that I must then send into the Commonwealth offices in Harrisburg so they don't suspend my Pennsylvania license.

I had a month to do this as of early February and just mailed in the all important Letter of Clearance last Friday. I'll be paying tickets promptly from now on.

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