Amnesty at the DMV

Earlier this month (pre-layoff) I replaced the 65,000-mile tires on the Yaris, enabling me to pass inspection and get a shiny new sticker on my windshield. That sticker reads “4/12,” and not “6/12″ because my inspection was actually due by the end of April, not the beginning of June.

In other words, I drove around for five weeks with an expired inspection sticker — with an illegal car. And DRIVING AN ILLEGAL CAR IS AGAINST THE LAW. That’s why at any point in May or early June I could have been pulled over and ticketed. I would have been charged a fine and I would have had to pay that fine, because my inspection was out of date, my paperwork was out of order.

But despite doing something illegal, something against the law, I was never in danger of arrest, because while driving a car with expired inspection stickers is “illegal,” it is not criminal. It’s a civil violation.

It’s fashionable these days to pretend that this distinction doesn’t exist — at least when the subject is immigration — but it’s a significant and essential distinction. A civil violation doesn’t make someone a “criminal,” it earns them a ticket and they have to pay a fine. That’s why lovely Rita the meter maid carries a pad of tickets instead of handcuffs. She’s not out to arrest anybody, just to leave a ticket under their windshield wiper.

I’m now back in the good graces of the Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles. My paperwork is in order, my inspection is good through next April and I am, once again, a law-abiding citizen. When processing my belated inspection, the DMV surely noticed that it was several weeks overdue, but they follow a better-late-than-never policy and do not issue a fine at that point. This is a sensible policy in that it encourages those with overdue inspections to come forward and correct the situation by getting their vehicles inspected. If they knew that doing so would result in a fine, that fine would be an incentive to not come forward and correct the situation. And creating incentives that encourage people to violate the law would be a foolish policy.

That, at least, is the DMV’s thinking, and I’m glad that’s the case.

The alternative view would be to characterize this policy as “amnesty.” Or, rather, to characterize this policy as OMG AMNESTY!!1!11 and then to insist that, whatever that may or may not actually mean, it must be the worst possible thing in the world.

I have tried, unsuccessfully, to discuss this with those most vehemently opposed to “amnesty” and to ask why they consider that word an epithet. It’s proven difficult to get them to articulate exactly why they think amnesty is such a bad thing, or even what it is they understand “amnesty” to mean other than “a Very Scary and Bad Thing that I fear and condemn because it’s Very Scary and Bad.”

I can’t help but wonder if those folks have ever allowed their inspection or registration to lapse and, if so, how they responded when their DMV allowed them to correct that lapse without penalty.

  • carcinoGeneticist

    Also, nobody called you a troll. Though if you want to self-identify as such, nobody’s going to stop you.

    ON BEHALF OF THE ALTERNIAN-AMERICAN COMMUNITY, I OBJECT AS HARD AS I AM PHYSICALLY CAPABLE OF TO BEING ASSOCIATED WITH THIS BUCKET-SCRAPING.

    ADMITTEDLY, THAT COMMUNITY INCLUDES A BUNCH OF IDIOTS AND A FEW SERIAL KILLERS, BUT WE STILL DO HAVE SOME STANDARDS.

  • https://profiles.google.com/ravanan101 Ravanan

    Also, nevermind that the DoJ’s statistics are unreliable, they just plain don’t say what you say they say. What you have claimed, contrary to your protests, IS a hypothesis of the meaning of the the DoJ stats.

    [In] the U.S. Black people have over many, many years been shown to be seven to eight times more likely to commit himicide [sic] than Whites

    The DoJ statistics don’t say that black people are seven to eight times more likely to commit murder. They say that black are seven to eight times more likely to be arrested for, charged with, and/or convicted of murder. See the difference?

    You are claiming that black people are more homicidal than white people. Note your use of “commit” homicide. That’s a hypothesis of the meaning of the DoJ stats.

    The hypothesis we’ve been advancing, which OTHER data seems to bear out, is that black people qua black people probably have around the same homicide rates, but through a confluence of factors (including the fact that black people probably do commit more murders than white people, due in large part to aforementioned poverty rates; also systemic discrimination in arresting and charging procedures–black people are more likely to be charged with murder for the same actions) that black people are 7-8 times more likely to be convicted of homicide.

  • PurpleGirl

    In November 2010 I went to a NYS DMV office to renew my non-driver ID. I was a year late. When I pointed out the date to the clerk and then said I’d lost the renewal notice in a stack of papers, she nicely answered, “Oh, that’s okay. It happens. Besides you’re a non-driver. Now how long do you want to renew it for?”  Every so often, you find people who are so understanding of things and pleasant to deal with. 

  • Beatrix

    Reply function not working anymore. 

    Guest-again, I find you very hard to understand; your references to “jokes” and “chestnuts” and so on – I might as well have been reading Cyrillic.  I’m sorry if there’s some News of the World scandal where some murdered girl’s phone was tapped; from what little I could make out it sounds awful.  All sensible people know that reporters are the scum of the Earth.

    As for who I am, well, what can I say?  One of my parents was British and the other Canadian.  I have two passports.  I was born in Britain, grew up mostly but not altogether in Canada when I was little and I went to high-school, as the Brits of course do not call it, in the U.K.  I have a mildly mid-Atlantic accent.  I celebrated Canada Day (it’s not Dominion Day anymore) on Friday July 1st here in Halifax.  There were fireworks at Citadel Hill. 

    Ravanan, I do think the United States is a greater country than Canada.  I don’t think it’s perfect, but, like that poor slob in the Godfather into, I believe in America.  I care about Canada, but I don’t see that it stands for an ideal; I am informed that it was a more worthwhile place before Trudeau took over in the ’70s, but that was before my time.  If you don’t care for America then that’s sad; ultimately, this is why we would probably never agree on anything remotely ideological.  I wonder what country or civilization you would prefer, though, human history being what it is.

    “The hypothesis we’ve been advancing, which OTHER data seems to bear out, is that black people qua black people probably have around the same homicide rates, but through a confluence of factors (including the fact that black people probably do commit more murders than white people, due in large part to aforementioned poverty rates; also systemic discrimination in arresting and charging procedures–black people are more likely to be charged with murder for the same actions) that black people are 7-8 times more likely to be convicted of homicide.”

    You have no “OTHER” data.  This is nonesense: “black people probably do commit more murders”, but that’s because of “systemic discrimination” and poverty, which is of course imposed on them entirely from without, probably by George Bush sneaking into their rooms at night and stealing their money, and then the police frame them, so somehow that means that “black people qua black people probably have around the same homicide rates as whites”.  You’re just making stuff up.  What you mean is that Black people do commit more crimes but it’s all the fault of the Evil System.  Well, I said you many comments back that that was the best rout for y’all (generalizing).

    Lori – never did find out what I was “dog whistling” about.

    EllieMurasaki – no.  There are limits to my masochism.  I’m not going back through well over 100 comments to try to guess which of hidden_urchin’s posts you’re referring to.  A handful of commentss above this one he said:  “A statistically sound study will control for factors such as geography, population density, economic status, education, cultural influence…you get the idea.  As the posters I mentioned pointed out to you, the DOJ numbers do not do this.  Data in a good study would also be collected according to standardized definitions and methods as far as possible.  As the other posters mentioned (Lori and Ravanan come to mind), the DOJ data was not only self reported but also came from jurisdictions with different definitions for the same crime.” (Presumably those “different definitions for the same crime” in those different “jurisdictions” would nevertheless apply across to people of any race, but I digress.)

    I am not writing you a scholarly report (says Lori as I imagine: “ha!  That’s because she’s real stoopid and has no education unlike me haha!”).  If there is a specific piece of statistical information you want I will (since I volunteered, which I wouldn’t now because it all just seems so silly) try to find it for you.  I will not compose you an Encyclopaedia entry.  I’ll check back in a couple of hours; otherwise, google away yourselves and bon voyage.

  • Lori

    Beatrix, you are truly a wonder. You’ve managed to miss the point on each and every point. You either haven’t understood anything anyone has said to you or you’re the chattiest, most determined troll we’ve had here in quite a while. 

    No one is asking you to write a scholarly report. We’re merely saying that you should read a few before flashing your ignorance at the world. 

      bon voyage.  

     

    Oh Beatrix, you’re such a tease. 

  • Lori

    Beatrix, you are truly a wonder. You’ve managed to miss the point on each and every point. You either haven’t understood anything anyone has said to you or you’re the chattiest, most determined troll we’ve had here in quite a while. 

    No one is asking you to write a scholarly report. We’re merely saying that you should read a few before flashing your ignorance at the world. 

      bon voyage.  

     

    Oh Beatrix, you’re such a tease. 

  • Beatrix

    Are you a brainwashed little university lefty, Lori, or a sad aging hippy?  Either way you (you personally) come off like a twelve year old bully trying to suck up to the cheerleaders; passive aggressive, vicious and ugly when you feel like other people have got your back.  In person you will be the wost sort of coward, physically and morally.

    No, I won’t click on to this foul little site again.  I’ll never get to read your witty response.

    To think Patheos hosts The Anchoress.

  • Guest-again

    ‘I might as well have been reading Cyrillic’
    You mean you haven’t lived in Russia too?

    ‘I have a mildly mid-Atlantic accent.’
    Actually, so do I. It’s a historical co-incidence though – a good part of Virginia and a good part of Nova Scotia share a similar accent, surprisingly enough.

    ‘civilization’
    You must have been the despair of your spelling teachers. Or maybe you use the ‘U.S.’ setting on your spell checker, since the U.S. is number 1? Though maybe, considering the typos (which we all make – no need to get into a huff), in this case it isn’t the spell checker, it is the education?

    Colour me surprised.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Are you a brainwashed little university lefty, Lori, or a sad aging hippy?  Either way you (you personally) come off like a twelve year old bully trying to suck up to the cheerleaders; passive aggressive, vicious and ugly when you feel like other people have got your back.  In person you will be the wost sort of coward, physically and morally.

    I love conversations with grown-ups. Your local team is worse than my local team and your haircut is also uncool!

  • https://profiles.google.com/ravanan101 Ravanan

    “If you don’t care for America then that’s sad; ultimately, this is why
    we would probably never agree on anything remotely ideological.  I
    wonder what country or civilization you would prefer, though, human
    history being what it is.”

    Given that I apparently hate my country enough to volunteer to join the United States Armed Forces, you might wanna pick another strawman to attack there.
    Seriously though, do you buy the straw in bulk? Because damn, you have a veritable army there.

  • Lori

    Oh dear. Beatrix thinks I’m mean and pathetic. However will I go on now that she has figured out my secret?

    Oy. The fact that Beatrix thinks that being interested in actual facts and properly conducted research makes me a  “brainwashed little university lefty”is yet another thing that says far more about her than it does abut me. In fact, her use of the term “brainwashed little university lefty” reveals a great deal, none of it good. 

    The fact that my unwillingness to simply swallow her unsupported (and unsupportable) racist claptrap brands me in her mind as “a sad aging hippy” also says a great deal about Beatrix and again, none of it is good. 

    Beatrix’s latest comment* is revealing in another way. Isn’t The Anchoress the blog that’s so nasty it’s presence on Patheos factored heavily in the decision of a number of people from the old site not to post here? Quelle suprise!

    For anyone not participating in the conversation who may wonder about my responses to Beartix, the reason that I simply gave up and mocked her is that it was clear almost from the beginning that she wasn’t going to actually engage in a substantive discussion. She made broad statements with very racists overtones and was either unwilling or unable to understand why anyone would consider that a problem. She over-focused on minor issues while totally missing the actual point of the various statements and questions that people made in response to those racist comments. There is no way to have a serious exchange of views with a person who won’t deal with the actual issue at hand. 

    The main thing that Beatrix refused (or was unable to) deal with is that it was her responsibility to support her statements. When one has made an unsupported statement and is asked to provide support, no variation of “Look it up yourself. I’m not going to do your work for you.” constitutes an acceptable response. When one makes a supposed statement of fact or offers an opinion that is racist (or sexist, or some other kind of -ist) in its implications the onus is on that person, not the audience, to do the work of supporting it. 

    *I won’t refer to it as her last comment because I don’t want to jinx it. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/ron.biggs Ron Biggs

    How in the world do you conclude he “hates America”?  That sounds a lot like Bachmann’s stance that anyone that doesn’t think as she does is guilty of “anti-American” leanings.  It’s to question someone’s patriotism because it is different from yours.  Your conclusion is a empty demagoguery, said more from a partisan standpoint of pre-judged sentiment than cogent argumentation or intellectual integrity.

  • Anonymous

    If you need the syllogisms laid out for you, here they are:

    Major Premise: All laws are to be obeyed, regardless of whether they are just or unjust.
    Minor Premise: The creation of this country was brought about through the commission of crimes under British Law.
    Conclusion: The creation of this country was illegitimate.

    And:

    Major Premise: Monoblade (ostensibly) hates illegal immigration for being a criminal act.

    Minor Premise: The criminal acts commited to bring this country into existence were far more severe than illegal immigration.

    Conclusion: Monoblade ought to hate the creation of this country more than he hates illegal immigration (or equally, if one considers all crimes of equal moral severity).

    Satisfied?

  • Villasenor

    If you want amnesty, then please move to Mexico.

    Thank you,

    Law Abiding, Legally Immigrated, Citizen


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