04/17/2006: "I hope you aren't a part of this"music: Hot Water Music - This Early Grave
Hearken ye, for I've a story to tell.
It began in December of 2004. I got a letter in the mail from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety telling me in all capital letters that my driver's license was suspended. I was puzzled. I hadn't done anything to warrant this. I've never even gotten a speeding ticket before. I called the DMV (Department of Public Safety Driver & Vehicle Services) to ask WTF. This is the beginning of the end.
I was told about the state of Minnesota's Random Insurance Sample Program. Apparently I was mailed a letter by the MNDPS and I was supposed to respond with proof of insurance. The trouble is, I never got the letter. It was probably sent during the in-between time of moving from one apartment to another. And surprise! The MNDPS doesn't have their mail forwarded by the USPS. Result: clueless citizen. I was told to go to an exam station, pay $20, and call back with the receipt number and magically that would take care of everything.
Here's a lesson for you: don't listen to anyone at the MN Department of Public Safety Driver and Vehicle Services division. Ever. Get a lawyer.
On went my life as usual. Then the morning of 2/4/05 I was pulled over by a Plymouth cop just as I was about to turn into the parking lot at work. I was told that I was driving while my license was suspended. Right about there something in my brain exploded and died. The officer was nice enough not to take me to jail and have my car towed after I explained my situation (I even had some paperwork from the DMV with me to back up my story). I went to the DMV again the next day and demanded WTF. The dude there was like, don't worry about it, just pay the ticket and I'll get your license back up and running. So against my better judgement I rolled over and paid the $180.
On 3/9/05 I got another letter from the MNDPS stating in capital letters that my license was suspended yet again. Reason: DRIVING AFTER WITHDRAWAL OF DRIVING PRIVELEDGES.
I marched back to the DMV and talked to the dude again. Because OMGWTF, right? He gave me an interesting tidbit of info: this Random Insurance Sample Program was actually suspended because it was such a huge clusterfuck and my predicament was common across the state. I'll get it taken care of, the dude said. Don't worry about it.
On 3/25/05 I got a letter telling me that my license was reinstated. Not long after that I got a letter telling me that the Random Insurance Sample Program was suspended and anything on my record pertaining to it was expunged. I did a little happy dance and thought that it was all over. Everything was right in my world again.
January of 2006 rolls around and I get my first bill of the year from my insurance company. Something else in my brain explodes and dies when I see that my rate has been increased FIVE HUNDRED PERCENT. And let me tell you, if I had $800 lying around to pay these people, I'd be doing pretty well. But I didn't have $800, and I still don't have $800. So begins my battle with the legal system.
I'm going to state the facts: 99.999% of people who work for the state and deal with the general public are FLAMING ASSHATS. No one will actually help you with anything. No one cares about your problem, even if it is their job to care. If you are reading this and you work for the state in one of these positions, admit it. We the public could just as well be asking you to tear your fingernails off. After two months of trying to figure out what I had to do to get the driving after suspension expunged from my record like it was supposed to be in the first place, I finally dragged my weary self to the Hennepin County Courthouse where I spoke with a lovely young man named Drew. Drew is in the 0.0001% of people who will actually help you. Thank you, Drew. I had to file a motion to reopen a previously paid citation. That much I knew from online research. What I didn't know, and what they don't tell you anywhere, is 1.) how to "serve" someone, namely the Plymouth City Attorney; and 2.) that after you serve someone you need an Affidavit of Service.
So I gathered my paperwork (after taking a day off to go downtown to the DMV and get a copy of my driving record), typed up my, uh, serve, and served the Plymouth City Attorney by registered mail. Luckily I'm surrounded by notaries so I was able to get my affidavit notarized and dropped off at the courthouse on the same day. The court date had to be scheduled 3 weeks out so all I could do was sit and wait.
Meanwhile, my insurance company is sending letters and calling me asking where my money at.
I went to court on March 24th, thinking that I could finally plead my case and put this all behind me. For those of you who ever need to go to court for anything like this, they don't tell you but you need to check in with the clerk in the courtroom. Useful information to know, since they don't have this information ANYWHERE in the courthouse. When it was finally my turn, I spoke with the city attorney in the courtroom. She said, "there's nothing I can do about this. The judge has to approve the motion." Might as well have been Swahili. She disappeared and came back in a few minutes and said, "the judge has approved the motion." Okay, said I, now what? "Talk to the clerk." I did. The clerk handed me a REPORT TO COURT form that told me to come back on April 14th at 8:30 AM. Another day of missed work.
So last Friday the 14th I went back to court. This time I actually got to talk to a judge. I explained the situation, they pulled my driving record and confirmed that yes, I was in fact a victim of this whole stupid random sample insurance bullshit, and not some sleezy criminal like everyone else in the courtroom that morning (a meth head alcoholic Wal-Mart thief, a guy who skipped out on his jail sentence, a guy who got his third or fourth moving violation in a year and had his previous deal with the city attorney rescinded, a guy who kept snickering at everyone's case). Then he said the words I had been waiting to hear for over a year: expunged. As in, this whole stupid mess has been expunged from my record. Not only that, but I'd be getting my $180 back. I had to restrain myself from jumping up and down. I gave him my heartfelt thanks. I wrangled something I could fax to my insurance company, then skipped off to work for the rest of the day. A quick call and fax to my insurance company later, and IT'S FINALLY ALL OVER!
Knock on wood.