Friday, July 25, 2014

Georgia's anti-military automobile laws

 For the most part I haven't run into a lot of anti-military bias in the U.S.  I've had credit card companies and colleges flex to meet me halfway when I'm deployed.  My home state of Michigan was even awesome enough to change my address and get me a new voters ballot in one email!  When I would read the Navy Times and hear about how judges had an anti-military bias, I couldn't really identify with them.

Until now.

I recently moved from Georgia to Hawaii.  My car's plates were going to expire in June of this year, and I didn't want to drive with expired plates, so I paid 35 dollars to renew them for a year.  I figured I'd let the plates run a year and get Hawaii plates after they expire.  I've done this every other state I've lived in with no problem.

And that's exactly what I did.  I got a Hawaii inspection (a joke, and in most cases a racket to try and get you to buy new tires for your car, but I made it through), paid five dollars and got a blue sticker that will expire when my car's plates do.  Easy day.

I was sadly mistaken.  I received a letter in the mail asking me to voluntarily cancel my car's registration because I didn't have insurance.  That made no sense, since USAA had shifted my insurance from Georgia to Hawaii because, well, that's where the car is.

So I tried calling my tag office, getting up early to do so to call during their working hours.  No one answered the phone.  Then I tried emailing them, specifically asking to verify that my registration was good because I still had insurance.  The reply back started "If you want to cancel your registration here is the form...", indicating the person hadn't read my email.

So I called Atlanta.  After talking on the phone with two different people, neither of which could grasp that I would have a plate of one state but have another state's insurance since I was living there, I gave up.

If this had been my only encounter, I could chalk it up to the woes of PCS.  But it's not.  When I came to Georgia we got Georgia plates and USAA shifted my insurance to Georgia.  All well and good, until a week later I drove through the gate and was informed my registration was suspended because I didn't have insurance.  I drove back to the tag office and was informed that Georgia had a special form that had to be filled out to verify insurance, never minding that the actual insurance company had contacted them and said I was insured, and never minding that they didn't bother to tell me this when I was standing there picking up my plates.  This also happened with 5 other Sailors that worked for me.  No letters in the mail, no phone calls, simply suspending the registration that wasn't caught until they went through the main gate.  When the XO got the nasty gram on the first Sailor from the base CO, I told him "Sir, I did everything right and I still got stung.  Let's let that one slide."  He did.

So thanks Georgia.  You've managed to come up with the worst automobile registration policies I've ever seen, and they directly affect military personnel.  You not only hurt people coming into your state, but you even manage to hurt them months after they leave.

For any fellow military personnel that are in or moving to/from Georgia, just be advised your car registration is going to be hell.