Monday, May 02, 2005

License Tab Renewal

I'm sure everybody is familiar with license tab renewal - today I decided to perform mine. My tabs expire this weekend and even though I'm leaving the state in a few weeks, I don't want to get pulled over.

Washington requires emissions testing every other year, and this was my year, so I drove over to the emissions testing station and waited in line. Maybe soon I'll have a hybrid car and might be able to skip this part... or perhaps the east coast isn't as environmentally friendly and allows high-emissions belching vehicles out on the roads. ;)

As usual, the wait was about 20 minutes for a 5 minute test. There are two phases: one with the engine off, when they apparently test if your gas cap leaks, and one with the engine on. I idly wondered how many cars fail every year, and how much does it cost to "fix" them so they pass?

When I got my results - my car passed - I read the back and noted that if your car is newer than 1981, and the cost of repairs is greater than $150, you can get a waiver for free warranty repairs. What do you know, this is actually about reducing pollution and not extracting more money out of drivers - besides the $15 cost of the test of course.

With my Vehicle Inspection Report in hand, I drove over to the licensing office. After a short wait the clerk asked me if I wanted to keep my current plates. Apparently Washington shuffles license plates around too, and for whatever reason, this was my time to change them. As in, get a new license plate. For a fee of $20 I could keep my current plate, but since I don't have a vanity license plate, I didn't see the point in keeping good old 878HAZ. So now I have 456TQG - woohoo (but haven't put them on yet).

Now, I don't see the point of changing license plates. I have the same car and am the same owner... what is the point of changing? Besides creating data-entry work? It surely can't be to make the people with vanity license plates pay more - just charge them extra anyway and be done with it. Or are there so many deadbeats in the state that forcing new license plates out there is the only way to catch people with out-of-date tabs?

Oh well, I guess I can keep my old plates as a souvenir of Washington. They do have a silhouette of Mt. Rainier of them! ;)

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