Feb 012010

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.

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Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  8 Responses to “Voting, Jury Duty, And More”

  1. Your Thought For The Day is: “Don’t whine about your mistakes, learn from them. “ I personally like :”Learn from other people’s mistakes, you don’t have time to make all of them yourself” That is the reason I read RV blogs:)

  2. South Dakota allows you to renew your driver’s license up to 6 months ahead which works out well for us since Larry is November and I am June. We have to appear in person every five years to renews. Last time, we flew in for the day from Vermont the end of May and flew back the same day. A quick taxi ride from the airport to town and we had it all done within half an hour. Spent the day touring Sioux Falls – a pretty little town – and then we got a taxi back to the airport.
    Joyce Space

  3. Florida let’s yo do it on line twice and your license is good for 6 years. We change to Florida residents in 2001 and will have to go back to the DMV in person in 2019. Also you can get a two year car tag now.

  4. The State of Oregon has granted us the legal status of “Continuous Travelers.” We stayed long enough one year in one park to have to pay the state income taxes, that’s how we acquired the requisite residency. Now we can travel and never return to Oregon (except it’s too neat a place NOT to return to), and renew our driver and vehicle licenses by mail. Of course, as long as we wish to keep the Continuous Traveler designation, we have to pay Oregon State income taxes, but they aren’ that much. We’ve been dismissed from jury panels because of traveling, and we do vote by mail — which everyone in Oregon does!

    However, now we are hunkering down in Arizona, we’re going to have to become legal AZ residents. Bummer!

  5. Starting Jan 1, 2010 South Dakota and most states require that you show proof of your residence. In our case, we use Alternative Resources. They suggest you come in and stay over at one of their parks and bring the receipt with you when you go to take your eye test. This has to be done every 5 yrs and can be done up to 6 months in advance. We were in SD last July and were able renew Bill’s license at that time since his birthday was in January this year but mine is not until the end of March. I was able to call the State and they sent me a form to request an extension. I filled it out in December and sent it back and they sent me a slip of paper that gave me an extension for up to one year (Dec 2010) on my current license.. They assured me I would not have to take another drivers test,

    As for jury duty, if you get a notice to appear you just look on the back and check the box that says you are a full time RV’er and out of the State. South Dakota loves RV’ers.

  6. Nick,
    I used to work on the road as a photographer, and during the 12 years I was on the road, I got called up perhaps three times, each time I contacted the clerk, explained that I was out of town for work and was released from duty. One time I got ‘caught’ off the road. I was all set, I had weeks ‘available’ where I didn’t need to be on the road again. Went in to the courthouse and was interviewed on a case. The lawyers rejected me… evidently I had a Bias about malpractice they didn’t like. I’ve never been called since. Which of course means I’m about due.

  7. Good info! Does anyone have news on the census and how fulltimers deal with that?

  8. We recently lost our Quebec licence plate on our fifth wheel trailer (wind snapped off the nylon ties holding it in place). Since we were on our way to Florida for the winter, we couldn’t see driving with no licence for an extended period. I called the Quebec DMV and they sent me a form listing what information had to be sent to them for replacement. I faxed the form and had a new licence plate by mail in 10 days. Pretty good service.

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