As many of you know, I recently purchased an automobile in the great state of Minnesota, which is home to an enormous number of drivers who ignore their right of way to let in other drivers in traffic. I like Minnesota. I like the people I’ve met there, I like the huge summer car scene, and I like Minneapolis and St Paul — "The Cities," as they’re called by people from North Dakota who cannot fathom the idea of any other, larger cities.
I do not like the temporary license plates.
I say this because I have to drive around with a Minnesota temporary license plate in my window these days, and it has, printed on it — this is completely true — my full name and my full address, including my ZIP code. It may also have my phone number. Even crazier: This license plate is designed to be placed in the rear window, in full view of everyone and anyone who walks by. So if I were to take my car to a Cars and Coffee, I would be showing everyone my full name and address if I wanted to comply with Minnesota law.
Now, speaking of Minnesota law, it’s worth noting that the Minnesota DMV is so pathetically backed up right now that it looks like I won’t be getting my title — and my actual license plate — anytime soon. In fact, the dealership where I purchased the car is sending me a second 31-day temporary plate to stick on my window at the expiration of my first 31-day temporary plate, and I suspect I’ll have another 31-day temporary plate after that. Meaning that my address will be displayed on my rear window for three months.
I thought this was all pretty ridiculous, and I’ve told it to people, but I didn’t realize just how ridiculous until I was pulled over last week by the United States Capitol Police in Washington, D.C, because they didn’t notice my temporary license plate. I gave the officer my driver’s license and pulled the temporary plate out of the back window — and then I told him that I hated the temporary plate because it includes my name and address on it. He and a fellow officer who had responded for backup looked at the plate and then doubled over laughing — I am completely serious — at the idea of any state-issued license plate including someone’s full name and address in plain sight. This actually happened: The officers and I were standing there, on the side of the road, laughing at the Minnesota DMV.
Throughout this process, I’ve especially been amused by the fact that this sort of thing could only happen in the polite Midwest, where their society still exists in a situation where people couldn’t possibly rob you or otherwise visit your house after seeing your temporary license plate, doncha know? As for me, on the East Coast, where people yell at you for moving too slowly in the self-checkout line at Target, I’ve folded my plate in half so my address is out of view — and I can’t wait for that title to get here. Find a used car for sale
Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.