Minnie, Me and the DMV

by John Delach

Our daughter, Beth, takes pleasure in assigning nick-names and years ago deemed me to be Juanito and Mary Ann; Minnie. In 2004, when we took delivery of a Jeep Liberty, I asked my wife if she’d like a vanity plate. “Of course I would and I know what I want it to say: MADMINNIE.” (MAD for her initials and MINNIE for her nick-name.) However New York’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) limits vanity plates to eight characters with no spaces so Mary Ann instead accepted the tag, MADMINNI.


In 2013, we transferred MADMINNI to a new Liberty on a 39 month lease and when the spring of 2016 rolled around, we invited our family to join a rather intricate dance where we would buy the leased 2013 Liberty so we could give it to the Brooklyn family who, in turn, would give their 2004 Liberty to Drew, our oldest grandson, who at 16, would gain a junior driver’s license. Mary Ann would lease a new Jeep Renegade that she christened, “Stubby.”



First we had to buy our current Liberty from the leasing company and obtain a title from NYS clear of liens.  Once the new title arrived by mail, I made my visit to the DMV armed with enough reading matter to make it through the 50 minutes I had to wait before I was able to leave after successfully registering the Jeep and paying the sales tax for the purchase.


Meanwhile, I discovered when we leased the new Renegade in Mary Ann’s name that she could not use MADMINNI for its plates because, as the money guy at the dealer explained: “Those plates are in your name and the DMV doesn’t recognize marriages.”


He instructed me to return to DMV, surrender the plates for storage then contact their office in Albany to ask what material I had to submit to transfer the plates to Mary Ann; I kid you not, back to DMV and, after another 45 minutes wait, they took the plates and issued us a receipt. A curious event transpired while Mary Ann and I waited our turn. A woman sitting next to us on the bench who, overhearing our conversation, said “Do you know that you can now make a reservation on line for a specific appointment?”


We looked at her in surprise. She had a reservation and was soon called but before she left, she gave Mary Ann the DMV’s internet address.


Calling Albany wasn’t too awful, a couple of holds then a woman who instructed me how to transfer the plates; send them a letter, copies of the current registration, my driver’s license, the surrender receipt and a check for $30 to cover the transfer.


Next Tom and Beth brought their 2004 Liberty to Port Washington. I gave Tom the title and registration for 2013 Liberty. He put his existing plates on it while I put a spare rogue NYS plate on the 2004 Jeep for Michael to use when he drove it home to Connecticut.

Early the following week, Michael brought the 2004 Liberty to his ecstatic 16-year-old son.


When the new registration for the Renegade arrived, Mary Ann made a reservation at DMV for 1 PM for the following Wednesday. She downloaded the barcode on her IPhone and we printed it as a backup. We arrived at the DMV at 12:35 PM and, of course, couldn’t find the code on the phone so we used the printed version. A clerk, whose job was to check us in, saw the code, asked for the piece of paper and scanned it. Mary Ann asked as he did this, “How long do you think the wait will be?”


“About ten or fifteen minutes.”


He handed us a ticket with our number. We drew W027. As we started to step into the usually crowded waiting room, a mechanical voice announced: “W027; Window Number 15.”


We didn’t even sit down! Let me state that again, “We didn’t even sit down.”


Game, set and match!