Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Pennsylvania: Driving People to Drink

My hometown of Philadelphia ranks #9 on Forbes' list of America's drunkest cities, somehow tied with Providence. I'm guessing they won't advertise this. I also question the methodology of any such list that has New Orleans at #24 and New York at #32.

Meanwhile, in an unrelated story, Megan McArdle details her tale of underage drinking in Philly 16 years ago, which led to her inability to obtain a D.C. drivers license this week. Longtime residents and former residents of Pennsylvania are not at all shocked to learn about the bureacratic incompetence of PennDOT...
I thought I had put all this behind me. Indeed, I was so informed, when I completed my State of Pennsylvania Mandatory Alcohol Education Class; provided I didn't reoffend, they said, the record would be expunged. We might consider the matter closed, and never speak of it again. With time, and perhaps a name change and a relocation to a town across the country, I might hope to live down my shame and become a contributing member of society once again.

Alas, they never told the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation that it was over. And thus, it is not over. I went to apply for a District of Columbia driver's license this morning, only to be informed that I cannot, because the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania wants to suspend my driver's license.

The problem, you see, is that at the time of my conviction, I did not have a Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Driver's License. Indeed, I had no driver's license at all, being one of those benighted city people who get their first driver's license at the age of 23. The laws of the State of Pennsylvania, however, say that the Department of Transportation is entitled to suspend the driver's license of anyone arrested for underaged drinking. And the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is, apparently, determined to exercise this privilege. Thus, the spectacle of a 35 year old woman being informed that she is about to have her driver's license suspended for underaged drinking.

To add insult to injury, I am expected to fill out a form and, at my own expense, mail it to the DOT in order to commence this suspension.
I'd normally mock McArdle for not having a license until now, but I already feel bad about the fact that she had to attend UPenn.

Perhaps the real role of PennDOT is to make the rest of Pennsylvania's state government appear reasonable and efficient.


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