No Excuse, Sir

The statement “Ignorance of the law is no excuse” is justified because without it, there would always be a convenient excuse for those who for whatever reason ignore the law. But are there exceptions?

A contractor came to my home for some work and while there he noticed the license plant on my car; the month shown was #3 (March) which was correct but the year was not. The tag showed the license good only through March of the current year, 2011. The current date was October, 2011 so obviously I had been running the car with an expired license plate for several months, unknowingly. One might question the oversight, but I simply had not noticed the license plate and, to justify my excuse, I had never received any mail indicating it was time to pay up. I do not know why this was not done, but obviously there was some miscommunication, nevertheless I was ignorantly wrong.

Here I was, driving all that time technically illegally and somehow having escaped a sharp eyed official or a license checkpoint. So that very hour. I was on the telephone to find out what to do and ended up at the County Treasurer’s office to pay the license fee, get an official form and take it to the Motor Vehicle Department for the tag. It was almost 4 PM, but I felt I had enough time so off I went. There was no line but learning I could not use my credit card, I luckily had a blank check in my wallet so that was taken care of promptly. I dreaded the line at the License Office but when I arrived, found that I was next. With the official form in hand I stated my case to the examiner who went to the computer and informed me that I had paid the tax on the wrong vehicle, a 2008 model. There was nothing to do but return to the Treasurer’s office and again, no waiting. But there was a problem.

I did not have another check, and it was too late to go to the bank plus I had no identification (PIN) number for a debit card transaction so sheepishly back to Hamer I went hoping no blue light one would notice my illegal behavior.

The next morning I was at the Treasurer’s office early taking care of business, but riding with a friend since I did not want to drive with an expired license plate. Again, fortunately the next wait was brief. The examiner was polite and efficient and informed me that in addition to the license plate fee, there was another rather hefty fee to be added, a fee for not taking care of the business on time in the first place. Ignorance of the law is no excuse offered no solace.

But I felt it was it was worth it as I stuck the 2012 decal on the plate when I once again became a law abiding citizen.

Bill Lee, PO Box 128, Hamer, SC 29547

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