WETHERSFIELD, CT – Are motorcyclists second class citizens in Connecticut? It seems that way. I recently received a tip from a rider and reader Chris Hinze of Middletown, CT who complained that the state Department of Motor Vehicles is discriminating against motorcyclists by not allowing us to research online the availability of a vanity license plate and by not allowing us to order a vanity plate online.
A check of the D.M.V.’s website revealed that while it is possible to research and reserve a vanity plate for five types of vehicles – Camper Trailer, Camper, Combination, Commercial or Passenger – doing so for a motorcycle isn’t possible.
Hinze maintained that it was possible to look up the availability of a motorcycle vanity plate online prior to D.M.V.’s problematic computer overhaul in 2015 and wondered why the department has now sent motorcyclists back in time to the pre-internet days.
Getting an explanation regarding the oversight took a couple of days of research by D.M.V. spokesman Ernie Bertothy, but, in an email Friday, he confirmed that checking on plate availability was indeed possible prior to 2015. He also provided an explanation as to why a charge occurred:
“Ordering a vanity plate online is one of many new online services DMV added in 2015… Ordering all vanity plates was a paper process before this new service was added to our website. The agency wanted to roll out this new service first with a limited number of plate types, and then advance in the future to offering additional plate types.
“DMV’s focus continues to be improving our services to the public, both in our offices and through online services, and expanding our vanity plate online ordering options to include motorcycle license plates is something we hope to offer our customers in the future.”
Bertothy’s statement didn’t give a reason for the limited vanity plate options when the service was launched or give a clue as to when an expansion of options might happen.
Excluding motorcyclists couldn’t have been done because of the potential volume of requests – there are too few of us.
Who else is being excluded? A check of the D.M.V. website shows the only other apparent category that’s excluded are “classic” plates, making D.M.V.’s response a bit specious. Really, what’s the difference between five categories and seven?
I’m not a techie, but I’m guessing that either the software purchased by the state when the D.M.V. computer system was overhauled simply didn’t list every possible option or the vendor was too consumed with putting out fires and getting its system to actually work in 2015 to modify the template.
Motorcycles are inconsequential and a nuisance, right? That is, if anyone even noticed the oversight at the time. Nonetheless, it needs to be corrected. The D.M.V. has already had two years to fix the oversight and it should have been done long ago.
A version of this column originally appeared in the “Republican-American” on June 17, 2017.