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florida dmv stupidity

Now that my '89 Buick LeSabre is 100% legal, I can tell this story.

Having grown up in Connecticut, I'm used to tough driving laws. If your car is not legal in any way, you will be pulled over, you will be fined and that's the way it is. Expired reg sticker by just one day? Have a fine. Busted tail light? Have a fine. License plate light not working? Have a fine. If you intend on driving in CT, you'd better make darn sure your car is 100% correct in the eyes of the law.

So I buy my Buick and the seller drives it to where I live. He uses his plate. I pay, he signs the title over to me and it's a done deal. I now own the Buick, but it's not registered and plate-less.

Now comes the point where I have to get the car to one of the HSMV offices in Hillsborough. However I can't do that just yet because I need a temporary plate to make the drive over there legally.

I go to the Florida HSMV web site and attempt to look up information on how to get a temp plate. For at least a good solid 30 minutes I combed through the site looking for any information that would help me. None was to be found other than how to get a temp plate if you were a dealer. But I'm obviously not a dealer, so that didn't help me at all.

Being I had no luck with the web site, I call the Hillsborough County HSMV and ask a very simple question: Where do I purchase a temporary plate?

The answer I was given is to drive the car with no plate to the HSMV office, and if I'm pulled over to tell the cop I'm on the way to get the car registered.

This was the absolute dumbest answer I ever heard concerning a vehicle reg in my life. The HSMV literally told me to break the law just to get the car legally registered. And let's say for the moment that I could have actually gotten away with that. Is the cop supposed to magically trust that I'm going where I say I'm going and let me go on my merry way? Or would he escort me to the HSMV? No clue.

It also appeared that the HSMV had absolutely no idea how someone is supposed to get a temporary plate. That absolutely floored me.

Well, I was having none o' that. There was no frickin' way I was going to drive a car with no plate on it. That's like waving a huge flag above the car saying, "PULL ME OVER - I'M ASKING FOR IT!"

I took the plate off my truck, put it on the Buick, drove over to the HSMV, legally reg'd it, got my plate, put it on the car, drove home and that was that.

Yes, I drove my Buick on a 10 mile trip to the HSMV with a tag that didn't even belong to it. Very illegal, but I didn't care. I tried to get a temporary plate and nobody knew how or where to get one. And it was better to drive over the car with a plate on it rather than none at all.

I wasn't pulled over during the trip and everything went a-okay - but it could have easily not have been.

I don't know what the fine is for driving a car with a plate that doesn't belong to that vehicle, but I'm sure it's pretty stiff.

Had this been CT, this never would have happened. It's very clearly stated how and where to get a temp plate. You need a title or cert of ownership (if making car payments), two completed forms and ID. Very easy, very straightforward.

As for Florida, I have no idea. I got my car reg'd, but did so the wrong way - only because I had no other choice.

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