A one-sntence omission in new Texas license plate law could jeopardize provisions for enforcing regulations on missing and illegitimate plates. Texas State Rep. Joe Pickett (D-El Paso) asked state Attorney General Greg Abbott (R) to clarify if a missing line about a $200 fine for driving a car without license plates could make other parts of the law invalid, according to the Austin American-Statesman. The license plate bill was passed by the legislature in May and signed by Gov. Rick Perry (R) and takes effect on Jan. 1. “It was just a very huge, detailed bill that we’d already rewritten three, four, five times,” Pickett (D-El Paso) said Tuesday. “This wasn’t a first draft. We made so many corrections and changes, we thought we caught everything.” Texas has required vehicles to have two license plates, displayed on the front and back, since 1934. The misdemeanor offense can bring a fine of up to $200, though drivers who quickly correct the problem can pay a $10 fee instead. Pickett’s letter to Attorney General Greg Abbott, written with help from lawyers with the Department of Motor Vehicles, argued that the $200 penalty can be implied by the way the law was written. In addition, Texas law does not require the penalty to be included when the offense is clearly explained, Pickett wrote. The article reported that Abbott has six months to issue an opinion on the new law. Pickett said it would be tough for enforcement as there is no explicit mention of the fine in the law, but said he believes the fact the law makes such license plate-related problems illegal would continue to let the bill stand. Typos in legislation have caused issues for state governments elsewhere over the last year. These include a mistake in Hawaii that provided cancer research with one-and-a-half cents from all cigarettes sold in 2006 instead of one-and-a-half cents for each cigarette, a mistake reported to have cost $8 million. The Texas license plate law problem comes as Georgia lawmakers will be considering legislation next year that would require “In God We Trust” to be placed on state license plates. Currently Georgia drivers can purchase a sticker with the motto to place on their plates.
Every car owner aspires to own the top-of-the-line model, one that comes with options the neighbors don’t have. Few wish for the extras a California man found in his used minivan. San Jose, Calif., psychologist Charles Preston found $500,000 worth of cocaine hidden in the door panels of his used Chrysler Town & Country 15 months after he bought the car, when his car was in the shop having its brakes examined. The vehicle, which Preston purchased for $14,000 from Thrifty Car Sales in Santa Clara, Calif., had defective windows. That’s because the cocaine was in the way. During the car’s time in the shop, a manager at San Jose’s DHT Collision & Service Center noticed something was wrong with the insulation in the window panel. It turned out to be the drugs wrapped in cellophane. The cops confiscated the drugs hidden in the window panels along with the packages found in the wheel wells. Police told him to get rid of the car, fast, in case the drug runners were still looking for it. He’s not driving it anymore. The owner of Thrifty Car Sales originally agreed to buy back the van for $4,000 less than Preston already paid, but ultimately decided to replace Preston’s vehicle with a drug-free ride.