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Senseless requirement at DMV

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Senseless requirement at DMV

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
March 7, 2009


Most people today are very conscious of identity theft and do not list their Driver’s License number or their Social Security number on their checks. One man I know won’t even list his first name on his checks, only the initials for his first and middle names.

When I was at the Woodstock DMV to renew a license plate yesterday, I read a sign informing me to put my driver’s license number on my check. I had argued that last year and lost, so this year I just knuckled under and saved my time. They are just following orders, and it’s obvious that they don’t make the rules in Woodstock.

After leaving the DMV I called the Office of the Illinois Secretary of State in Springfield, where I was re-directed to a Chicago office for drivers’ facilities. The answer? “It’s our procedure.” So I spoke with a supervisor and then with a manager. Again, the answer was, “It’s our procedure.”

A suggestion was made that I write in via the webform on the SOS website. Ha! He wasn’t going to get rid me that easily. When I told him that I expected I’d get the same answer, he agreed. Now why would I want to waste my time just to get the same answer? And from a customer service clerk, not even a supervisor or manager!

He explained that they needed to know who presented the check, in case it was not good. He dug himself into a deeper hole when he said, “If your son brings in your check to renew your plate and the check is no good, then we know who brought it in.” So what!

I told him that, in that case, my son would only be the messenger and would have no responsibility for whether the check was good. He seemed to think that he could attribute fault to the messenger. I could not imagine why he would believe that my son would have any financial responsibility for my check.

What if I sent the check in with a cab driver? Would he hold the cab driver responsible for my bad check?

Explaining that my driver’s license number was already printed on the Registration renewal form didn’t get me any points with him. If my check is bad, all they have to do is cancel my plates and send a trooper to take them off my car. Then they could hit me with a big fine for the bad check and a fee to reinstate my plates.

So next week I’ll be in touch with the Accounting and Revenue Department, which apparently developed this procedure. I can’t wait to hear what they will say about the reason for the requirement to put the driver’s license number on the check. Now, if someone showed up with his own check to pay for my license plate renewal, I wouldn’t argue so hard against the D/L number requirement.

Doesn’t anyone else ever ask “Why?”, when you run up against senseless requirements?



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