Sunday, July 8, 2012


My long suffering wife and I decided to make a Sunday jaunt to the bay side village of Fairhope, Alabama for a quiet cup of coffee at Page & Palette, an independent bookstore that has become a force in the arts community. We've been regulars there for almost twenty years. Most of the trips made there are usually in either the 1976 MGB or the 1973 Mini. Today we chose the Mini since it was a bit warm for a drive in a convertible and it appeared that we might see an afternoon thunderstorm - not an uncommon occurrence along our part of the American Gulf Coast. 

We finished our coffees and clambered into the Mini for the ten or so mile drive back to Spanish Fort. As we drove north out of Fairhope, one of the city's finest was belting himself into his cruiser in front of the police station when he did a double take at us in the little car. I thought nothing more about it as he did a U turn on Section Street and fell in behind a car following us. the next thing I know the officer is behind us with his car lit up like a blue Christmas tree.

What now?

I pulled over into a parking lot and killed the engine. He approached the side of the car where a driver should be only to see that the steering wheel was not where he expected to see it. He came around to my side and asked for the usual documents (registration, drivers license and insurance card). When I asked the reason for the stop, he simply said that he wasn't sure if my license plate was legal.

I run age-related vintage tags on my cars with the appropriate state-issued gold sticker that gives them same status as a "vintage" plate as issued by Alabama. I've written about the law in this blog before and how it might be good idea to print out the state Department of Revenue regulations to have handy when applying for an age-related vintage tag at your local Probate Court office. I didn't think I would need it for a police officer. 

The officer seemed skeptical that my 1973 license plate was: A -the genuine state produced item from almost forty years ago, and: B - the "V" sticker was legit. After a few moments of back and forth conversation and comparing numbers on my registration with the ones on the tag, he finally sent us on way with a thanks and a handshake. In all, ten minutes. The officer (whose name I failed to get) was unfailingly polite and professional - a true credit to the City of Fairhope.

Yeah, I'm probably going to keep a copy of the law in the cars now.

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