How did it get this bad? First of all, let me say that the people who helped me in the following story were all nice and were just doing their jobs. But the system, man, it is more frustrating than a four-pound gar chewing up your last 6-inch Mann’s six-inch black grape jelly waggler when the bass are biting.
Several years ago, I bought a slightly used pontoon boat, motor and trailer from the estate of a man who had passed away. It was a great boat, great deal and just what I was looking for! I trailered the boat from Toledo Bend to D’Arbonne, put it in the boat house and put the trailer in storage.
Two years later, I decided to trailer the boat to another lake for a family vacation. As I loaded the boat up, I noticed the trailer had no license plate. No problem. I got my folder of information and headed to the DMV. Halfway through the process, the lady looked up at me and said, “There’s no serial number on the bill of sale for the trailer.”
I had missed that. The attorney had missed it. The sellers had missed it. Ah, but the DMV, they didn’t miss that. Apparently the original owner never even put the plate on the trailer and it was long gone. A couple of attempts to contact the sellers through the lawyer failed, so back in storage the boat trailer went. No big deal.
Then, recently I needed to trailer the boat down the road to Wood Marine to get some work done on it. There it was again. That unlicensed trailer. Here I am driving down the road towing an illegal pontoon boat trailer, which also apparently has worse penalties these days than treason. Back to the DMV.
“Is there anything I can do to get a new title and license plate?” I asked.
No. It was one of those short, quick no’s.
I don’t take “No” very well in cases like this, so I pursued it and found out that I could actually take all this paperwork to the Justice of the Peace, convene court and get a court order saying, “Hey, this trailer does belong to him.” Whew. Just one final step. I had to find a Sheriff’s Deputy or Louisiana State Police officer certified by the Peace Officer Standards Training (POST) for such matters to verify my possession of the trailer and that the numbers matched.
I did. He did. He filled out the paperwork in triplicate and back to the DMV I went. But… one of the numbers, which were located on the bottom of the trailer tongue, looked like a “5” when it was actually a “6” and it was listed as a “5” when it should have been a “6” on the paperwork. That won’t work at the DMV. The officer did all he could do to help. He actually drove to the DMV, met me, filled out another form in triplicate, and I took another number from the little red box at the DMV. Soon I was inside with all my 5’s and 6’s in order.
“This should do it,” the lady said. Then she began typing in all the information, pulled out a plate and started to hand me the paperwork when her computer goes “bing”.
“Uh oh”, she says. “Uh oh” is not what you want to hear at the DMV. Now I know “bing” isn’t either. Apparently the man had purchased a lifetime plate for the trailer. It had not been turned in and was still listed as active.
“He bought a lifetime plate and it hasn’t been released,” she said.
“Mam, his lifetime plate has expired,” I said.
“They don’t expire,” she said.
“Well, his did. He’s dead,” I said.
Silence is the second-worst thing you can hear at the DMV, but my helper did ask me to see everything I had in my little green folder. Thank goodness it included a notorized death certificate from my original purchase and the bill of sale from the original dealer to the original owner.
“That will work,” she said, doing some more typing, paper filling out and etc.
Five minutes later, I had my new registration and my license plate. The title is in the mail. Now the only question is, do I put that on my trailer or just FRAME THIS SUCKER!!!!!????? and hang it on the wall…
(numbers have been blurred to protect the innocent)