Saturday, January 11, 2014

Biting The Wrong Butt

Some things come back to bite you in the butt. But what happens when they bite the wrong butt?

It started last Thanksgiving, at least when I came into it. Before that I had no inkling whatever. We - Paul and I -were heading home from Steph and Ben's after a lovely dinner. Suddenly Paul got pulled over. I wondered why, as I'd checked his speedometer as soon as the lights flashed. No speeding. No other obvious indicators of trouble, like weaving or any poor driving.

The cop asked for both our licenses. I was tempted to ask why he needed to see mine as I wasn't driving, but decided not to do anything to push his nose out of joint. Perhaps that was a mistake, in hindsight.

Conversation with the cop, and later in the car while we waited, gave me details on the issue. Weeks or months earlier, I'm unclear, Paul hit one of those famous Minnesota attack deer. He filed an insurance claim for car damage, and had written the claim number on his proof of insurance card. When his new updated card arrived in the mail, he neglected to put it in his wallet, preferring to hang onto the one with the claim number. Some time later he got a speeding ticket and was unable to prove he had renewed his insurance.

It somehow skipped his mind to stop by the courthouse and produce his newest proof of insurance. He finally had the documents in his possession, showing uninterrupted coverage. He knew he'd done nothing wrong. They didn't. Apparently the system flagged his car license. Usually that's covered with dirt from driving unpaved roads, but he decided to get his car washed for the holiday and everybody in fancier than usual duds.

The cop explained the problem in no uncertain terms to Paul. He had been driving on a suspended license. A ticket was issued, instructions given on where to go to get things straightened out, and the orders for him to stop driving until it was all straightened out were issued. As the cop handed both our licenses back, he checked (asked) whether I was in condition to drive us home and had us switch positions. As I don't drink and wasn't tired, and obviously had a valid license, it wasn't a problem.

Paul's been having his brother drive him to and from work, then finally got things straightened out enough to get a paper allowing him driving privileges to and from work, limited hours and only 6 days a week. (No Sunday overtime: how very Christian of them!) If he needs to go shopping or see a movie, somebody else still drives. It's slow getting everything straightened out, but we all figured that fines and inconvenience were the end of it.

Today Paul went online to deal with a final fine - or maybe not final. And certainly not simple. Not once he finally took a good look at the details. Yes, now, nearly two months after Thanksgiving. He handed it to me for a look, indicating that it was peculiar. It took me a few seconds to see what he meant, because I had to start at the very top, with date, county, etc. It finally began to trickle in what I was looking at, and I reread it a couple times to verify just what was wrong with it.

It was written to me! My name, my license, my vital statistics, my gender.


I suddenly have a citation for driving on a suspended license!

The implications are staggering. Insurance rates. Job qualification. Years of spotless driving record gone.

Obviously I hope it can be straightened out with a simple phone call. I think I know better. If the right people will bother to check, there will be no suspension anywhere on my record. But will it be that easy? Can a button be pushed and the record changed back, make the citation "never happened"? Can I trust the issuing officer will remember that long ago and admit his mistake?

Paul meanwhile is hopeful that after all this time the citation cannot be reissued with his name on it. He thinks this is a good thing. I just see hours of headache, minimum. And speaking of, why should this be my time and effort on the phone? Yeah, I know. It's my future on the line. Somebody else's actions, my consequences. My butt.

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