This column is Part III of my three-part series related to issues connected to Washington State mandates involving vehicle registrations.
Part I of this series, titled Westside Story – Government Ignorance, pointed out the unnecessary, dangerous risk our state government forces innocent citizens to take when they comply with state law. If you missed Part I, click my link above for further details.
Part II of this series, titled Westside Story – Government Goofiness, discussed the unnecessary, bureaucratic, and goofy registration design which requires registered vehicle owners to report where the registration was signed. This issue is not dangerous, but it is goofy. If you missed Part II, click my link above for further details.
My goal for Part III is to provide an intelligent solution to the problems described in Part I and Part II of this series.
To develop an answer, I conducted an interview with a recently retired police officer with 30 years service. He retired at the end of last year. I retired six years ago. Between the two of us, we have 55 years of experience dealing with vehicle registrations.
Because my interviewee is an officer who does not wish to become famous by having his name appear in Westside Story, I will change his name to Dennis.
When I add 6+ years of retirement to my last years four years on the force in Court Security and Juvenile Investigations, a lot has changed for law enforcement traffic units during what amounts to a decade.
During my time on the road, over ten years ago, officers typically completed traffic tickets and collision reports by manually transferring information from the violator’s driver’s license and vehicle registration to the traffic tickets or collision reports. It was all accomplished with what they call in the mountains of Kentucky, an ink pen.
As time marched on during the decade I was off the road, things changed. Police officers ended up being issued some fantastic high-tech equipment inside their patrol cars such as laptop computers, bar code readers, and printers.
Dennis agreed with me that the design of our current vehicle registration is potentially highly problematic, dangerous, and goofy. He did not support my first suggestion to eliminate the requirement mandating the need to display vehicle registrations to law enforcement.
His reason for resisting my solution is because modern-day vehicle registrations have a bar code embedded in each document. One swipe of the bar code causes all the information on the document to upload into a traffic ticket or vehicle collision report. The bar code process is a significant time-saver and accuracy enhancer.
After listening to each other, we came up with a comfortable and practical compromise. Here is how our suggested solution would work.
- Maintain the current law requiring each driver to display a vehicle registration if requested by law enforcement.
- Continue with the existing vehicle registration design that includes a bar code, thereby helping law enforcement to be more efficient and error-free.
- Stop printing the registered owner’s address on the vehicle registration which can be abused by criminals. The address can be contained in the bar code information which is unreadable to the common criminal.
- Stop requiring registered owners to sign their registration and thereby avoid victimizing the registered owner with forgery problems.
- Stop requiring registered owners to disclose the PLACE SIGNED, because in addition to the requirement being poorly worded it appears to be a goofy government red tape requirement that has no meaning or purpose.