Paul Rolly: 24-year-old traffic tickets come back to haunt Utah cop
A cop who has spent the past 24 years in law enforcement in Utah discovered recently the long arm and everlasting memory of government when it needs some money.
The cop, who wants to remain anonymous, spent the summers of 1988 and 1989 working at a resort in Vermont.
Like many 20-year-olds, he received a couple of traffic tickets while frolicking in the Green Mountain State, but he paid his fines and went on his merry way.
After returning to Utah in fall 1989, he received a letter from the Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles informing him that he had exceeded the allowable number of points, so his driving privileges in that state had been suspended for 10 days.
The suspension dates had already come and gone, and he was in Utah, where he had a valid driver license, so he thought no more about it.
He since has graduated from Utah's police academy, retired after a 20-year career in one police agency and then hired on with another. And he has renewed his driver license three times without an issue.
But in November, that 10-day license suspension of 25 years ago came back to haunt him.
He made an appointment with the Utah Driver License Division to renew his license and came armed with his Social Security card, driver license, birth certificate, U.S. passport, current police ID, retired police ID, Smith's "valued customer card," library card, even a Costco card.
Who knew that none of that mattered?
As the clerk at window No. 16 was processing his application, she told him there was a hold on his license renewal from Vermont. There never had been a hold the previous three times he renewed his license. But times have changed.
He called the Vermont DMV on his cellphone and was told he never paid the $71 fee to reinstate his driving privileges in Vermont.
The DMV clerk then asked him if he would like to "take care of it" over the phone with his credit card. Apparently, Vermont takes MasterCard, Visa and American Express.
When he asked why this problem never surfaced before, he was told since Vermont joined an interstate compact a few years ago, officials have been uploading all of the state's old driving information.
He hoped to pay the fine over the phone so he could get his Utah license that day, but, alas, it takes three to five business days for the hold to clear the computer here.
He took his myriad forms of ID back home, paid the fine online, got a receipt and waited the necessary time to haul everything back to the Utah Driver License Division and get his license.
One can only guess that Vermont's recent membership into this interstate compact, which has existed for decades, comes on the heels of tough economic times and, hey, what better way to cover revenue shortfalls than from folks around the country who once visited the gorgeous New England state but are no longer there to vote?