The DMV. Forever in the list of places you only want to go if there’s a zombie apocalypse going on and the only other option is to run towards them shouting “What about me!? What about me!?” sadly for us we’re forced to go if we want to drive our cherished chariots or, in my case last month, because you have to fight a ticket. No rest for the weary.
The DMV, called “Direccion Nacional de Transito” here is one of those buildings that I like to think of as great equalizers. Everyone from the most common of the common all the way up to a congressman is forced to come to this building and do their own paperwork to get a permit or renovate it. There’s no guy with a stack of papers outside to tell you that he’ll get you what you need if you only pay him. And because your permit can last at five years at the most it they have to do it with a modicum of regularity. Hopefully most of them don’t inspire enough fear to just have some random copper rubber stamp their procedure and are just there to get their picture taken.
Apart from people renovating permits there’s always a healthy line of people that have to pay a ticket. I should point out that getting a ticket means that the nice cop takes your permit away instantly and then gives you the ticket. None of this nonsense about getting points on a license and penalties and higher insurance rates over here. No, one strike and you’re out of a permit. The permit itself gets taken to one of the main DNT offices, not a problem if you’re in a big city but quite annoying literally everywhere else. The ticket itself gives you 48 hours behind the wheel for you to go to the DNT, pay the fine and get your permit back or fight it. You get your permit back after you either pay the ticket or you successfully fight it.
And fight it I would. Really, the only thing worse than getting a ticket is getting a ticket for a completely idiotic reason, but we’ll get to that on a bit. At least the last time I was here was because I wanted to renovate my permit and that really only took about half an hour and had no headaches apart from the usual orderly queues where everyone decides they’re far too busy to make a proper line and cut to the front of the line.
Unlike the American system where, someone correct me if I’m wrong here, the ticket itself has a written date where you have to go to court should you wish to fight it. Over here there’s a little room that acts as court where the judge tells you if you’re right or wrong (nobody else in there but you, him and some random staff). My particular case should’ve been an open-shut case. I had documented that the reason why the officer had written the ticket was ludicrous and that my car had been that way for at least a decade now, matched the information on the registration, and nobody had complained until officer Christmas Bonus there picked a target. Really it was a matter of procedure so I could get my ticket and keep avoiding the Christmas season traffic.
I entered the makeshift court secure in the knowledge that the judge would also see it that way. Thankfully this would only take a minute as this room was also deprived of functioning air conditioning. It did have a unit but it seemed it was there mostly to fill the room with that smell that only a terminally-ill air conditioning unit does. Did he see it my way? Would I be writing about this in excruciating detail and wrote an article about it if he had?
No, in fact his only acknowledgment of my presence was the dry “Pay the ticket” he blurted out as I finished explaining what happened. I’m guessing that he says that a lot. And so I was forced to join the queue to pay the ticket. Mercifully without cutter because who would like to have to pay money sooner than everybody else? At least the ticket was only L.600 (around $30) and it’s the highest fine you can pay in the country. Doesn’t sound like much but when you compare it to the average wage it’s actually rather a lot. To make matters worse my old permit actually expired so I had to get another one “Since I was there anyway.”
Really, the system is not really that bad. Add some air conditioning, a judge that…gives a crap and more locations where you can go and claim your permit and you have a system that actually forces you to settle your matters with the law as quickly as possible. If you get caught driving without a permit or with an expiring ticket your car goes to the impound and you go to jail. I’ve never had a car impounded but I’ve been told that when they come back it’s not entirely out of the question that they’re missing some useless things like the A/C compressor or the toolkit.
And the reason I got into this mess in the first place. Well, my car is registered as being “Yellow/Gold” in the document. Most of it is actually gold with a contrasting brown. Nothing unusual in that. However, the front of it looks like this:
This was classified as “Unreported Modifications” by Officer Christmas Bonus. May he had to make several mile-long queues to do his shopping