After reading the Thought For The Day in yesterday’s blog (When you go into court, your fate is in the hands of twelve people who aren’t smart enough to get out of jury duty), two different wannabe fulltimers e-mailed me to ask how fulltimers handle civic obligations such as voting and jury duty. Do they have to return to whatever town they are domiciled in to cast their votes, or if they are chosen for jury duty?
When we started our fulltiming lifestyle, we chose Texas as our legal domicile, and our mailing service was with the Escapees in Livingston. Two or three times over the years we received notices of jury duty. In each case we just called the Polk County courthouse, explained that we were Escapees and were traveling in another part of the country, and that we would not be back in the area for several months. In each case, we were dismissed, and asked to stop in and volunteer for jury duty the next time we were in Livingston for a while.
A couple of years ago, we switched our domicile to South Dakota. We have not received any jury summonses so far, but my understanding is that if we do, all it takes is a telephone call and an explanation that we are out of state, and we’ll be dismissed.
Voting, no matter where you are domiciled, can be done by absentee ballot. Just contact the local authority that handles such things and request an absentee ballot. Fulltimers do it all the time.
Another question I get frequently is how does one renew their driver’s license if they are fulltimers. It depends on the state. In Texas, we renewed online once, and most states have that service available. Some states allow you to renew your license online or by mail one time, and then require you to appear in person the next time around.
Some states require drivers past a certain age to appear in person and take an eye test to renew their licenses. License renewals usually fall on your birthday. In every state that I know of, you can renew your license anywhere from 30 to 90 days in advance, so if your birthday falls in the middle of the winter, you can usually go earlier and get it done, rather than returning to someplace like South Dakota (a popular domicile state for fulltimers) in the middle of January or February.
Texas also requires an annual vehicle safety inspection, and depending on which county you are registered in, you may also need an emissions test to renew your license plates. Polk County, home of the Escapees, does not require an emissions test. You do not have to return to Texas to renew your license plates, it can be done by mail or online. You are only required to get a safety inspection when you bring the vehicle into Texas, so if you are traveling, you do not need to return to get a safety inspection. Just get it done the next time you are in Texas. In our bus conversion, we once went several years without a safety inspection, because we were not in Texas during that time period. South Dakota does not require a vehicle safety or emissions inspection.
Life on the road is a lot of fun, and even though we do have to handle things like jury duty, voting, and renewing licenses, none of them are a major obstacle. With a little planning, a telephone call or two, or a few minutes online, any of our civic obligations are a piece of cake.
Thought For The Day – Don’t whine about your mistakes, learn from them.