The MVA’s Failing Grade

“Against stupidity the very gods Themselves contend in vain.”
Schiller, Maid of Orleans

Yesterday was not a great day for our Motor Vehicle Administration. An audit found that if they were doing anything correctly it was only in the blind-hog-and-acorn sense of the concept.

The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration failed to monitor drivers convicted of drunken-driving offenses and often allowed them to resume driving before they were supposed to, according to a state audit that found numerous other failings in the agency.

The audit by the Department of Legislative Services also found that the MVA issued licenses to drivers who submitted Social Security numbers of dead people; that it waited an average of 115 days to suspend the registrations of vehicles found to be uninsured, suspensions that, by law, must be immediate; and that it failed to pull the driving privileges of some parents found to be late in paying child support, as state law dictates.

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Now some of this I have to admit being agnostic on. Revoking the drivers license of someone who is late on child support payments strikes me as having the same logical heft as tossing someone in a debtor’s prison. But the law is the law and the only way profoundly stupid laws get changed is by their enforcement highlighting their stupidity.

The fact that we have dead people and drunks driving legally in Maryland neither suprises nor overly concerns me, at least in the way that driving and using a cell phone does. My concern is my wallet.

In addition, the audit says, the MVA waived $824,000 in fines that it should have levied on auto dealerships for late payment of registration and title fees charged to buyers of vehicles. The oversight body declared the MVA’s overall performance “unsatisfactory.”

Consistent application of the law is the bedrock of a functioning society. While occasionally waiving fines and penalties makes good sense it is hard to believe that the chronic lassitude exhibited here, and one must note that the waivers were granted to dealerships not to private citizens who might actually need a break, was warranted.

When all of us are going to be taken to the cleaners during this special session, it would make those of us who pay our obligations feel a lot better if we knew that everyone was doing the same.

Tell the Governor, via Blackberry, at that we expect the MVA to either shape up or let us get our drivers licenses at Wal-Mart.

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