(Warning: Self-indulgent, this-is-my-blog-so-I’ll-whine-if-I-want-to bitching ahead.)
So just before I left D.C., I was caught by a speed camera. They sent me a ticket for $150. The problem is that the initial ticket never got to me. I guess it got lost in the shuffle of my move. I had my mail forwarded, but there was about a 3-4 day lag after I moved and before the U.S. Postal Service’s mail forwarding kicked in.
So the first I heard of the ticket was when the second notice was forwarded to me in Nashville. And since it had been 30 days since the ticket was issued, my fine doubled to $300. I decided to challenge the $150 late fee. But you aren’t permitted to call and talk to a live person about any of this. The only way to challenge an automated ticket is to send documentation and a letter through the mail. So I sent the ticket, a letter explaining the situation, and the envelope the second notice came in, which included the USPS forwarding sticker on the outside.
Last week, I received a notice, also originally sent to me old address then forwarded to me by the Post Office, letting me know that my challenge is under review. But it could take up to twelve months for the powers that be to reach a decision. The kicker comes in the last paragraph, which lets me know that the final judgment will be sent to the address the D.C. DMV has on file for me. That of course would be my former address in Virginia. Which means the notice may come after the Post Office stops forwarding my mail. Which means it may not actually get delivered to me. Which is the reason I didn’t get the original ticket in the first place. Which is the reason I’m challenging the fine.
I called the D.C. DMV. I explained the problem. I asked if I could simply change the address they have on file for me to be sure the answer to my challenge actually gets to me. The helpful public servant told me that—and you can see where this is going—I can only change my address in person or by mail. And it’s actually even more complicated than that. D.C. got my address from the Virginia DMV. Which means they won’t change my address until the Virginia DMV does. But because Virginia has a car tax, you can’t change your address to an out-of-state address until you can prove to them that you’ve registered your car in your new state.
I explained this to the D.C. DMV public servant. All I want here is to make sure that the adjudication letter actually gets to me so I know if I have to pay $150 or $300. She said I’d have to spell all of this out in a letter and . . . send it to the same address to which I sent my challenge. I said, “And they’ll then respond to me by mail?” She said yes. I said, “And they’ll send their answer to my question to my Virginia address that you have on file?” She said yes. I said, “And that will go to the same backlogged office that my challenge went to?” She said yes. I said, “Do you see the problem, here?” She non-answered, in an automaton, I’m-done-with-you voice, “Questions and challenges to automated tickets can only be made my mail.”
Also, it’s August. And the IRS still hasn’t sent my tax refund. Helpful IRS hotline public servant told me to call back if I don’t hear back from the government in three months. She couldn’t tell me what the problem is, and she couldn’t promise it would be resolved in three months. Just wait three months. And if I still haven’t received my refund, call back.