It's not often that you can confirm the accuracy of a news story in real time. But that's what happened during recent days in regard to a report about delays at Colorado Department of Motor Vehicles offices in regard to the issuing of permanent license plates.
The problems are definitely real, and they definitely suck. And I've got proof times three.
Over the past few months, our family welcomed three new cars — sort of. My wife and I bought a 2014 Honda from a private seller via a transaction we financed through a local credit union, while my twin daughters each purchased factory-fresh Hyundais from a dealership in Boulder.
At the time, we all received temporary Colorado plates, as well as an assurance that we'd receive notice to pick up our permanent ones prior to their expiration.
Wrong. None of us got such a notification — meaning that in order not to look like we were breaking the law, we'd have to go to the DMV and request an extension on the temporary plates.
Our temps expired first, and my wife, who is widely known to be a saint, volunteered to stop in at the DMV office nearest our house in southwest Jefferson County to do the deed.
Meanwhile, in between episodes of keyboard torture at Westword, I happened to notice a tweet about a 9News piece headlined "Colorado DMV Having Trouble Giving Permanent Plates for Some Customers." The item blamed "a computer problem" for the matter, with a department representative explaining that "the current DMV system is having issues working with the national database to check a car's history to make sure it's not stolen or totaled in another state." And a high volume of new-vehicle purchases owing to people replacing rides damaged by recent hailstorms only made the situation worse.
After reading about this scenario, I emailed the link to my beloved, mostly in one of my typically lame efforts to be funny. But she wasn't laughing.
Turns out she had to wait the better part of an hour to reach the counter despite showing up at the office the moment it opened, and when she got there, she was told the State of Colorado had no record that we'd bought the vehicle, period.
My wife countered that we had the temporary plate and asked if an extension could be issued on that basis. But the clerk checked with her boss, and he told her no. The only way an extension would be granted is if my wife brought in all the paperwork from the purchase to prove that it had actually happened.
Fortunately, our house is only about five minutes from the office, and the clerk let her cut the line upon her return with a pile of documents demonstrating that we hadn't simply imagined paying thousands of dollars for our car. Then, and only then, was an extension okayed — but she had to pay a little over $7 for the privilege.
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My daughters' temporary plates were set to expire on September 4, immediately after the Labor Day weekend. So they both decided to make their DMV visits in Denver the previous week — and at my wife's suggestion, they took all their purchase docs with them.
Lucky thing. The DMV had no record that one of my daughters had purchased her car, either, while the documentation on daughter number two was located only after an extensive ten-minute search. Neither had to make a trip home, though. When they presented their paperwork, they were granted extensions for which they had to pay, too.
Ironically enough, the Jeffco DMV rep blamed the mixup over my wife's and my car on the credit union, while the Denver staffers who spoke to my first daughter pointed the finger at the dealership.
That would have been more amusing if they'd been able to guarantee that our permanent plates would be available before our sixty-day temporary renewal runs out. But they couldn't — and if the worst comes to pass, it'll mean...another trip to the DMV.