Ahh, Lynn (over at Business Writing blog) reminded me of a recent response from the Department of Motor Vehicles. I called to ask if the state accepted “out of state” learner’s permits (we just moved to this state.) I was told “no.”
I obviously asked what the legal basis was for that decision, since having already read through the appropriate legal documents (Title 15) I had not read anything in the law that would preclude it. I was told it was “in the state code.”
“Oh? Could you give me a reference?”
“Hold on, sir. Yes–go to our website and search for ‘Title 15.'”
“Thanks–could you tell me what paragraph in Title 15? I have already read through it and didn’t see anything that would preclude it.”
“Sir, we are not a legal research library.”
I started to argue, again saying I had already read through the title, and if she was going to give an answer she should be able to support it, but I gave up. They won.
Honestly, I was not too pleased, since I was given the “it’s on the website” answer. What really frustrated me the most though was that I was given a <B>definitive</B> answer (or is it declarative?) but they could not provide any support for their answer.
Should we push for legislation that would require government officials (especially those working answer lines, like the DMV and the IRS) to be able to support their answers? If their answers will actually impact our behavior, our lifestyles, and perhaps our income taxes, shouldn’t we be given the source information, if requested?
Let me know your thoughts on this.