What Public Cameras Just Cost Me
I own a 2003 Lexus. It is a classic and despite the fact that it is big and white and not very sustainable, it gives me great pleasure. When I bought it used from a Ford Dealer five years ago, I asked the dealer about the fact it had only one plate. He explained that my car predated the California requirement to have both front and rear plates and this seemed to be true until a couple of days before Christmas when I got pulled over and a state police officer gave me a fix-it ticket, requiring me to go to the DMV and swap my one license plate for two new ones.
He told me that I had always been in violation of the law and that I should take care of it soon to avoid getting pulled over again. I figured that was an exaggeration and went on my way, making a note to take care of it if and when I got the chance, hopefully within the month’s time.
Two days after Christmas I went for a hike, parking my car safely by the trail head. I returned to find a new ticket, this one from the City of Novato. It was no Fix-It ticket. This one demanded $114. I started to realize these guys weren’t screwing around, so yesterday I spent a lovely afternoon sitting on benches at my local DMV.
When my turn came, I was told it was pretty simple. The fee would be $20. They would give me the appropriate screwdriver. I would then go out to the parking lot, remove my old single plate, go back into the DMV and exchange my old one plate for a new two.
Sounded like my ordeal would seen be over. But the DMV guy stopped in the middle of a sentence and stared at his screen for a long moment. He told me that he saw I had sent in my money for a new registration, and then kept staring. It turned out, that I had forgotten to get my smog certificate. So before I could get the screw driver to remove my plate and exchange it for the two plates, I would have to go to a smog station and get a certificate, then go back to the DMV and complete the process.
This was starting to be more than annoying.
I spoke with my friend Robert Scoble, this morning and shared all this with him. Perhaps I was looking for sympathy. I told him it felt like the cops were out to get me. As so very often happens, Robert found a tech issue that explained the big deal about no front plate.
Cameras, Five years ago cameras and cars had little to do with each other. Then Red Light cameras were installed. Not long after that, toll booths became automated and we got Fast Passes, or whatever they are called in California. Cheaters who didn’t have the sensor devices which we stuck on our windows were caught by having their license plates photographed. When I park at the ferry, cameras take pictures of my plates to catch me if I don’t pay for parking on my mobile app.
All this probably led to a memo, telling California law enforcement officials to get tough with us one-platers. So they recently got tough.
Here, the story should end, but it doesn’t. It gets into an issue I covered in Lethal Generosity: Product design.
I called up Steve. Steve is the go-to guy in the Novato California area for people with older Japanese vehicles. He does maintenance and some repairs with great skill and at a lower price than the dealers charge. Steve informed me that my bumper was never designed to carry a plate. It needed a special bracket. Even with that bracket, the plate will cause some wind displacement which may cost me some gas mileage and perhaps make a sound when the wind hit it.
Steve could install it, but no it couldn’t be done after I saw the smog guy, and went back to the DMV and then got the bracket from the Lexus dealer. My car was old and that would be a special order for the dealer. It is likely to be a few days.
I could get the plates, but the front would have to be visible to police or I am likely to get another ticket. I asked him what he would advise me to do.
He suggested I move to another state.