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'NOTAG' tags bring flood of tickets


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'NOTAG' tags bring flood of tickets

By MARY ALLEN

Staff reporter

07/22/2004

Jim Cara wanted a vanity license tag that would make people laugh.

But when he chose "NOTAG" for the plate on his Suzuki Hayabusa, a sleek blue and silver motorcycle with a speedometer that reaches 220 mph, the joke backfired.

The new tag arrived Saturday under an avalanche of Wilmington parking violations.

"All the traffic tickets say, 'Notice of violation. License number: no tag,' " Cara said.

City computers, talking to state Division of Motor Vehicles computers, had finally found an address for ticketed vehicles that lacked license tags: Cara's home in Elsmere.

"I messed up the system so bad," Cara said. "I wonder if they can put me in jail or something?"

He has received more than 200 violation notices. The mail carrier came twice on Saturday. Cara opened a few. They ranged from $55 to $125 for violations such as meter expirations.

Cara, 43, who works for the American Motorcycle Association, said he's been a lifelong prankster. This time, though, "the cleanup is going to be worse than the joke," he said.

At first, "I was scared to go out with it," Cara said of the Suzuki. So he called Wilmington police Saturday and said he gave the desk sergeant a chuckle.

Then he called the city this week.

John Rago, communications director for Mayor James M. Baker, said an incorrect computer code used by the contractor that processes the city's parking violations helped land the tickets in Cara's mail. City officials planned to have it corrected Wednesday, he said.

Wilmington appeared to be the only jurisdiction with the no-tag computer glitch, said Kelly Pitts, spokeswoman for the state Transportation Department, which oversees the motor vehicle division.

Delaware traffic officials screen applications for vanity tags primarily to prevent motorists from obtaining vulgar phrases on their license plates, she said. Cara's choice, while quirky, isn't distasteful.

Though it appeared Cara's problem was being resolved, Pitts said Cara's best insurance against future problems would be to change the "NOTAG" plate.

But Cara loves it.

"I want to keep it," he said. "I think it's awesome."

Reach Mary Allen at 324-2794 or mallen@delawareonline.com.

delawareonline

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