A very expensive mistake

I got pulled over by the police on Saturday on the freeway.

I wasn’t speeding, I wasn’t texting, but I’d done something really, really daft: I’d forgotten to pay my car registration.

It was due in November. I’d paid my car insurance and my CTP green slip, but for some bizarre reason the rego had slipped my mind.

A week ago Service NSW cancelled my car registration.

While I’ve received notifications from Service NSW for other minor matters recently, for some reason they don’t issue alerts for major stuff like cancelling your car registration.

They just wait for the coppers to catch you instead.

The policeman sternly told me – when I finally moved from brokenly sobbing to quietly weeping … it’s been a difficult week – that it’s up to the vehicle owner to keep an eye on their bills and their due dates.

It didn’t help that i’d already been having a weep in the car before I got pulled over.

I’d spent the night in Newcastle to visit my dad, who is having some issues with his dickie ticker and is in hospital today, and was racing back to Sydney for a “family conference” with my ex.

I was running late due to a traffic incident on the freeway (it also took three hours to make the journey up the night before due to a prang and a truck breakdown) when I got pinged.

One good thing is that I haven’t been in a car accident over the past three months – your third party insurance doesn’t kick in if you don’t register your car.

The policeman said I was only authorised to drive the car to a Kmart service centre just off the freeway,  where I could check if they did blue slip inspection  – which is the colour you need for an unregistered car.

He didn’t enlighten me about the size of my fine for driving an unregistered vehicle with no third party insurance, but Google reckons it’s around 1400.

The Kmart service centre didn’t do blue slips, so I called DD for another weep and then let my ex know I wouldn’t be coming to the family meeting.

DD, bless him, found a mechanic that was open near my place and prepared to do a blue slip inspection that afternoon.

So I drove to the mechanic, which you’re allowed to do if you’ve made a booking somewhere for the purpose of registration. I called my sister as I drove to have a further weep and ask if I could borrow one of her cars.

She picked me up from the mechanic and took me for a late lunch with her husband while the blue slip was being done. They took separate cars and kindly handed me the keys to one of them.

Just as I got home, the phone rang to say the car was ready … a bit of a tactic error on my part because how was I going to pick it up on my own?

Fortunately, my ex happened to be in the area to collect the youngest from a skipping workshop, so he gave me a lift.

The mechanic was a lovely bloke and I’m so grateful for how quickly and cheaply he did the blue slip.

Now I need to head to Service NSW to register the car and get new number plates. Sigh.

Then I just need to wait for the horrifying fine to arrive in the mail. DD reckons I should try appealing it as November was a very stressful, fraught month for the Household, filled with kids’ specialist appointments, jury duty and frequent calls from the police about runaway children.

I was a bit scatty as a result. It’s probably not a good enough excuse, but it’s worth a try.

I’m also not alone.

The Sydney Morning Herald published an article in December bemoaning the new rego system called … wait for it … “Drivers demand reminders for car rego as NSW rakes in $240m in fines”

Here’s an excerpt:

Steven Morris, 56, from Naremburn was shocked when told by a police officer that his car had been unregistered for three months and therefore uninsured. He expects to pay more than $1700 for fines, new number plates, and mechanic fees for a roadworthiness certificate because it was more than three months past the rego date.

“They have my email, phone and home address,” Mr Morris said. “With three options to contact me, you would think they would have taken one of those opportunities rather than leaving it until my car goes completely out of registration and now we have to get a blue slip and give our number plates back and start from square one.

“If we had an accident and hurt someone we would have been uninsured – it could be a life-or-death thing rather than just an admin thing,” Mr Morris added.

Another Sydney motorist named Ian said he was pulled over last week for an expired rego by a police officer who said “he was stopping cars every 20 minutes” for the same reason.

“A police officer pulled up next to me, flagged myself and a second car to the side of the road both for expired rego,” Ian said.

“When I spoke to a lady at Service NSW, she said that they don’t send many notices out via post any more – that people should receive email notifications.”

All Service NSW accounts have email and SMS notifications turned off by default.

Those fines are gonna be crushing when added to the youngest’s braces bill that’s coming up, oh and every other bill.

So I’m feeling a bit gloomy. I could have spent five days on Heron Island for $1400.

I hope your weekend was better than mine.

Alana’s tips for the day: never drive to Newcastle on a rainy Friday night …. aaaaaand always check you’ve paid your rego.

Song of the day: Paul Kelly “Dumb things”

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