Orange County Register — North County News; Date: Oct. 25, 2018; Section: News; Page Number: A3
WHAT A DAY
Am I a scofflaw, or just a né’er-do-well?
When I first began writing for the Placentia News-Times, I related the story of how I went to the ranch one day, thinking I was a solid citizen and returned home to find a note, stating I was a common criminal.
The charges? I had let my dog’s license lapse…for five years.
In my defense, I had not received anything in the mail saying that my license fees were due. I called the authorities to plead my case, but the woman on the phone was unmoved.
“If you don’t get your credit card bill in the mail, do you assume you don’t owe them any money?” she asked, somewhat snarkily.
I knew it wouldn’t do any good to point out that I receive my credit card bill every month, not once a year. I can’t even remember to schedule my mammogram once a year without a sharp prodding from my doctor.
Recently, I found out that I have again become a scofflaw.
It began with a simple trip to the credit union. I needed to make a transaction that required a bank teller, so I went inside. As usual, I produced my driver’s license for identification, along with my bank account number. The lovely woman looked up my information, and checked my ID.
“Did you know that your driver’s license is expired?”
Much like the dog license, my first response was to say, “But I never got a renewal notice.” My second response was to pick up my license and stare at it. She was right. It had expired on my birthday this year.
My birthday is in February.
I began to think about all the times I presented my license as proof of my identity. There were a few times at the bank, and each time I traveled, hotels asked for my license. No one ever pointed out that it was, in fact, no longer good.
Then I remembered—I had flown at least twice with an expired ID. In March, I went to Philadelphia, and in June, I went to New Orleans. So four times, I stepped up to the TSA agent with my ticket and driver’s license proudly in hand, and they stamped their approval.
I’m torn between intense guilt at flying with an invalid ID and wanting to giggle like a toddler who’s just stolen a cookie.
When I wrote about my expired dog license, I had some interesting feedback. Our police chief at the time sent me an email saying he wished had more criminals like me.
And I met a lady at a neighbor’s party who had a similar experience, except she hadn’t paid the license because the dog had died. She could not seem to convince the authorities that she no longer needed to license a dead dog.
I must say, I’m hoping no one else in Placentia has accidentally let their driver’s license expire. I’m pretty sure it’s more serious than not renewing your dog’s license.
And if the police are reading this, please know that I left the bank that day and immediately went home, logged into the DMV website, and renewed my license online.
Of course, now I’m wondering if letting two different types of licenses expire makes me some kind of repeat offender. It’s a good thing I can’t let my marriage license expire.
I’d hate to have three strikes on my record.
Longtime Placentia resident Gayle Carline tracks those moments that shape her days as a wife, mom, computer whiz and horsewoman. E-mail her at [email protected].