The bills are mounting. You’ve been without work and starting a new job today. You can’t afford the insurance on your car, but promise yourself to get some with your first or second paycheck.
On the way to your first day at work, you get pulled over by a cop because you ran a stop sign you didn’t see. She already knows your car doesn’t have insurance just by running the plate through the DMV database she can access on her computer. You tell her your story. It’s not that she doesn’t care; she has got to protect the rest of us from uninsured drivers. She gives you a citation.
You must now find another way to get to your new job. When you arrive late, you explain what happened to your new boss. Hopefully, she’s understanding and doesn’t fire you before you get started.
Meanwhile, the tow truck parks your car in an impound lot.
On your lunch break, you call the police department to find out where your car is stored. They tell you to come to the station with proof of insurance, pay the release fee, which varies between $50 and $250 depending on the city in Oregon where you got stopped. You know you can’t afford that. You beg them to at least tell you which tow company it is. You get lucky that they tell you, but they remind you that the tow company can’t let you take the car without insurance and a release certificate.
After hanging up, you hitch a ride from a co-worker you just met to drop you off at the tow yard. They are closed. You take the bus home.
The next day you take the bus to work. On your first break, you call the tow company and ask how to get your car out of impound. They tell you the same thing the cops told you. You ask for your options since you can’t afford to buy the insurance, pay the release certificate, and pay their whopping $500 tow and storage fees. The nice man tells you to bring in the title and sign it over. They will sell your car at auction to cover the expenses. If there is any money left over, they’ll give it to you. If you still owe them money, they’ll bill or sue you, depending on how long it takes up storage space. You get angry, hang up, and ignore the situation.
After two months of taking the bus to work, you finally have enough money to buy another car. About the same time, you get a letter in the mail from the Oregon DMV that you have 30 days to obtain an SR22. You call around for auto insurance quotes for your new car and ask for an SR22. The price is $150 a month for liability insurance with SR22. That’s more than you have after buying the car. You ride the bus for the next two weeks, leaving your new car parked at home. Smart move. With the next paycheck, you buy the insurance, and the agent faxes the SR22 just in time to avoid suspension of your driver’s license.
Now you are back on track—driving to work, with insurance, in your new car. When you get home one day, you find a letter in your mailbox from the tow company that they have taken you to court and won a judgment against you for $2600. What? Why? You call the tow company. They tell you that you should have brought in the title, and the amount would have been a lot less. They had no choice but to file a lien on the vehicle and wait the required time for the release of ownership. Your car was taking up their space in their impound lot, for which they charge $50 a day. They didn’t get enough at auction to cover all their expenses and legal fees. $2600 was the cost after the sale. Now you are outraged and hang up.
A month later, you notice your paycheck is short. You talk to someone in human resources. They tell you that your wages would be garnished for the $2600 plus interest and fees for the next three months until the debt is satisfied.
In other words, don’t drive a car uninsured unless you have about $1,000 to get it out of impound.
Oops, you left out one thing. You had to go to court to make arrangements to pay the $390 in fines for driving uninsured and running the stop sign.