Not that long ago I wrote about how important it was for full-timers who workcamp to follow traffic laws compared to other folks, because if you get pulled over for something like speeding it gives the police officer the chance to ask you why you’re in their state but have your driver’s license and vehicles registered in another. Some states have very picky residency rules (like Georgia for instance) where if you take a job within the state, you’re considered a resident from that moment on. In Georgia’s case, you then have 30 days to switch your tags/driver’s license/vehicle insurance etc. over.
What to tell the police officer when you get pulled over in this instance has been hotly debated about on RVing forums. Typically, the officer will be clueless as to what a full-timer is, and they’ll think that you’re trying to skip out on paying the fees due to their state. The general consensus is not to lie to the officer, but to say as little as possible. Reply to questions succinctly and courteously, but don’t offer any information that isn’t directly asked for.
Twelve years. Twelve years I’ve had my driver’s license, and ten years I’ve owned a vehicle. In that time, I had never once been pulled over for speeding. Not that I’ve never done it before. I regularly go five over the speed limit, and like any normal person (especially when I had the Civic which didn’t have cruise control) I’d develop a case of lead foot on occasion and go higher than that.
I say had never been pulled over for speeding in the past tense, because guess what happened Wednesday when I was coming home from work. I guess there’s a first time for everything.
The blue lights started going off in my rear view mirror as I crossed the draw bridge in the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge and a thousand curses fired off in my brain as I pulled over to the side of the road. It was after dark, so the officer came with his flashlight to the driver’s side window. I was ready with my license, registration, and proof of insurance.
It didn’t take long for the questions to start. Where are you heading, why are you in Georgia, etc. etc. I kept my cool and followed my own advice. Then the officer took my stuff and went back to his squad car for what felt like an eternity while I sat and waited for a verdict.
The situation wasn’t as bad as it could have been. See, I’d already scoured the internet looking at forums and talking on workcamping Facebook groups ahead of time and I knew that working in Georgia as a full-timer was going to be tricky business. As I said last post, the Lowe’s is located in Rincon, GA. My RV on the other hand is located in the next town to the East, just across the state line in South Carolina. Georgia can’t claim me as a resident even if I’m working there if I’m not staying there. Likewise South Carolina’s claim on me is thin because I’m not earning an income in the state.
But as it turns out I didn’t have to worry, because getting pulled over wasn’t the most interesting part of the night.
When the officer came back, he flat out asked me if I was a full-timer. I told him the truth, and then he told me that him and his wife had been full-time workcampers based out of Montana for a few years, they’d loved it. He told me a little about the places they’d been, how he wished he was still on the road, and that to get around Georgia’s 30 day rule, the trick was to switch sites within 30 days. He said you didn’t even have to move campgrounds, just sites.
I laughed, to be getting this advice about how to get around the rules from him. I was feeling pretty good about the whole situation, but then he handed me the speeding ticket. Shucks, guess you can’t win them all.
Being in the somewhat constrained financial situation that I am right now, the ticket was a bit of a bummer. I was going 50 in a 35 zone, the speed limit drops from 45 to 35 right around the bridge and I spaced it.
I drove the rest of the way home a bit disheartened, but then got the second surprise of the night. Duct taped in a plastic bag to the front step of Cas (cause it still hadn’t stopped raining) was a manilla envelope from another camper at the park whom I’ve never met before. At first it looked like some standard throwaway coupon ‘welcome to the area’ type stuff, but then I looked at them closer and read the note that had been enclosed with it.
Turns out the fellow who left the stuff had been sightseeing in the area for over a month and had bought a big package deal on prepaid tickets to events in Savannah. They hadn’t used them all in the time they’d been here, so he figured he’s pass them on to someone else. Apparently he’d noticed how I was never at the campground and deduced that I must work in the area, so he figured I’d appreciate the time off. Inside the envelope was a total of six tickets to three different events, the two full day passes to ride the Savannah Trolley tour alone are worth around $50.
I’m going to have to pay a speeding ticket. But on the upside, I was stopped by quite possibly the only cop in the state to understand what a full-timer is and not not give me twenty questions about what I was doing there. I got some interesting advice straight from the horse’s mouth about how to get around residency rules in the state, and while I’m losing money for the one ticket, the six tickets I received upon arriving back home probably come close to making up the cost.
And the moral of the story is: sometimes, you just have to trust that things will work out, one way or another. Oh, and pay attention to how fast you’re driving. Really.
* * *
The pictures in this post were taken in the past month, since I arrived back in the lowcountry. The first is of a little county park located just off I-95 near Pooler, GA, down the road from the Camping World where I had dropped Cas off to get de-winterized and a couple small fixes done. The second was taken at Hunting Island State Park, this seagull was waiting for a handout of the snacks Julie and I had brought with us to munch on while reading our books on the beach. The third is the vegetation covered sand dunes of Coligney Beach, on Hilton Head Island. If you look closely, you can see a bit of the ocean behind the dunes on the right.
Also, this post should have been up during my lunch break today, but instead I was driving myself to the emergency room with only one fully functioning eye. Yes, I’ll be fine. It really was more of a Urgent Care kind of situation, but all the Urgent cares around here are closed on Sundays. That story will have to wait for another day. 😉
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