December 24, 2003

Have a seat, put some music on, and generally get comfy while I relate my recent Brazillian experiences with the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

Two months ago I received a notice in the mail letting me know that I was overdue for renewing my vehicle registration. I was aware of this fact, but had been unable to do anything about it because renewal requires a code that the office is supposed to mail you a month before the deadline. They didn't mail, I didn't renew, and thus I owed them more money. I fumed for a bit and eventually just sent in the damn fees and renewal forms.

Yesterday I was driving towards the lab when I realized that I still hadn't received my registration papers. I called the DMV to ask what was taking so long. The operator was shocked to hear that I hadn't received notice they were waiting on my smog check information. All of the registration renewal papers were in order, but I was kindly informed that, until I had a smog check, I would be driving illegally.

Today I went in for the smog check. And failed the nitric oxide test so badly that my vehicle was classified a "GROSS POLLUTER". The state mandates that to even have a diagnostic inspection (before repairs) for such a vehicle costs $102. However, part of the "What to do if you suck" informational paragraph on my bill informed me that financial assistance was available to those who classified as Gross Polluters.

I both went to the website and called the hotline for information regarding that financial assistance. There I discovered that, after a $100 co-pay, California would pay up to $500 towards repairs to bring my vehicle back towards atmosphere-friendly status. Unfortunately, part of receiving this financial assistance involved me sending them my registration renewal forms.

If you've been following along, you'll realize that I already sent those renewal forms to a different DMV office.

Not to be discouraged, I called the DMV to ask them if they could just forward the forms to the other office. No dice. I was also angrily told that the DMV call-center doesn't forward requests for duplicate forms. So in order for me to get a new registration renewal certificate, I needed to make an appointment with my local DMV office. Which means that I am now waiting until January 2nd to talk to someone in person and have them hand me two sheets of paper fresh off a laser printer. It's anyone's guess how long processing my financial assistance request will take after sending in the paperwork. And because the financial assistance program doesn't perform reimbursements, only post-approval awards, I can't get any repairs until everything has gone through.

It's time like this that I could just junk the Volvo and get a used Prius.

Posted on December 24, 2003 01:23 PM

That sucks. Can you walk to the lasers?

Posted by: jason on December 25, 2003 09:24 AM

The lasers are almost at the top of the hills that separate Berkeley from Orinda. It'd be quite a hike....

Posted by: Jacob on December 25, 2003 12:47 PM

it's pretty up there. and sometimes there are goats.

Posted by: michele on December 27, 2003 08:43 PM

And if one of the goats ever disappoints you, you can take him for a nice long walk way back from the road and SHOOT HIM WITH THE LASER! Take that, you canary!

Posted by: jason S on December 28, 2003 09:11 AM