I used to have a car registered in Arizona. As a student, I was legally able to take my car around the country with me without necessarily being required to register in each subsequent state. This was convenient. It also had some other perks:
- Arizona has no front license plate.
- Arizona license plates aren’t tacky like, say, Ohio’s.
- The driver’s license location must match the car registration. My AZ license doesn’t expire until I turn 65.
- It’s a nearly-perfect way to avoid photo citations.
So, given these reasons, I had no good incentive to go through the trouble and expense of registering my car in Ohio and Iowa when I was just there briefly for school. The only catch is that Arizona has an emissions program. This is fine, except when the car is out of state at the time when it is due for a test, an exemption form must be completed. This form is one page with a spot at the bottom for a police officer’s signature (from whatever state you happen to be in).
Surprisingly, I encountered shadiness on this simple task of getting a signature. I was in Iowa for about four years and in only one or two of those years did the cop from the Ames Police Department actually look at the car. A couple of the officers just asked for my driver’s license and signed the form. The form is to verify that the car (not the driver!) is in another state. It asks questions about the VIN and plate number, for example. Signing the bottom of the form without looking at the actual car is fraud! I appreciate that this has no direct impact on me personally, but come on! It’s their job! I think they should do it properly because I have principles. Sometimes fraud benefits the driver. Sometimes it doesn’t.
In defense of the Ames PD, at least they were willing to sign the form. The Wichita police said they couldn’t because it was the highway patrol’s job. The Kansas highway patrolman was very nice and he pointed out that the form said specifically that any law enforcement officer was allowed to sign it.