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Vehicle licensing fees about to go up

So much for $30 tabs.

First the Department of Licensing tacked on a small processing fee, and starting in the new year they will raise the tab price altogether, basing it on vehicle weight.

For sedan and station wagon drivers that means an extra $10 for a total of $40 on vehicles weighing up to 4,000 pounds.

It only goes up from there.

Drive a Ford Explorer? You’re looking at $50.

A Hummer throws you into the next weight category, which will cost $60 to relicense.

And it’s going to cost you $75 to license that motor home.

The new fees were approved earlier this year by the state Legislature.

For trucks, the rules differ a little because their fees are based on 150 percent of their weight under the assumption they will be hauling cargo. Those rates range between $40 and $60.

Before you get too worked up, let’s put this in perspective.

Sure it’s a fee hike, but compared with what drivers paid before the $30 tab initiative, it’s still a deal.

Not so much of a bargain, however, is the license plate replacement fee hike – used to be $3.50 per plate, but will be upped to $12.

That wouldn’t be such a burr in the side if it weren’t for the fact that the state forces you to replace your plates every seven years whether your plates are in good shape or not.

Also new is a requirement that the registered owner of a vehicle present a current Washington state driver’s license when renewing their tabs.

Those renewing by mail can write the information in on their renewal form.

The new rule is designed to prevent scofflaws living in nearby states from registering their vehicles in Washington to save a few bucks.

Making the ‘A’ list

Ever wonder why crews are out plowing and de-icing some Washington highways right after a snowstorm while other roadways seem to be perpetually covered with the slippery stuff?

It all boils down to the list.

Much like Hollywood stars, Washington highways are rated on different levels.

That means the “level 1” Interstate 90 is akin to Brad Pitt, getting all the fawning attention it can handle, with care paid to make sure it is bare and dry or bare and wet as soon as possible after a storm.

“Level 4” highways, on the other hand, have more in common with Pauly Shore. They are left alone, and in a condition that it would take a miracle worker to dig out.

Just try driving Highway 23 between Steptoe and Sprague after a blizzard and you’ll see what I mean.

I-90 is the only level 1 roadway in Eastern Washington. Level 2 highways, which may have snow or ice build-up from time to time, include Highway 195, parts of Highways 2 and 395.

So now, if the highway you travel on a regular basis seems to be getting ignored, you know why.

It just gets no respect.

If you want to find out more, go online to winter.

Sobering reminder

The Washington State Patrol began its drunken driving patrols almost two weeks ago, and the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office and Spokane, Spokane Valley and Cheney police joined the effort last week.

All will conduct extra patrols throughout the holiday season.

If that isn’t sobering enough, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 1,054 people were killed last December in crashes involving drivers with blood alcohol concentrations of .08 or higher.

Leaf cleanup

This week, Spokane crews will be sweeping up leaves in Browne’s Addition.

And while the city simply asks people in other neighborhoods to move their cars off the street, Browne’s residents beware: The city tows on-street parkers in your neighborhood during its leaf pickup.

Today, crews will be sweeping north-south streets. On Tuesday, work moves to the east-west streets.

Other neighborhoods scheduled to be swept this week include: the Manito Park area on Monday and Tuesday; Hamblen, South Freya and Lidgerwood on Wednesday; Rockwood, East Sprague, Chief Garry Park and Esmeralda on Thursday; and Rockwood, the central business district and Chief Garry Park on Friday and Saturday.

Fair warning

Finding a parking place at the mall this time of year can be stressful enough. Don’t add to the aggravation by getting yourself a traffic ticket.

The Spokane Police Department will be conducting traffic patrols this week on arterials near shopping malls, such as NorthTown and River Park Square.

To stay on the good girls’ and boys’ list, obey the speed limit, leave plenty of room between you and the car in front of you, use your blinkers and watch for pedestrians.

Slow going

Eastbound Sunset Boulevard will be closed at its intersection with Fourth Avenue on Monday and Tuesday for water line work.

Work continues to stabilize the rock face along I-90 east of Snoqualmie Pass.