Checkpoint Moolah

I was at the DMV a few months ago and witnessed the saga of one of the victims of the Escondito Police. The young man in front of me was visiting from out of state and had been driving through the area the night before. He had chosen to be a good Samaritan and offered to be the designated driver for a few folks who had indulged at a party he attended. Being a good citizen, and knowing that his vehicle was registered and insured, and that he had not had a drop of liquor to drink, he approached the check point without apprehension. Obviously, he passed the DWI screening, but he had neglected to have the most current copy of his insurance in his glove box so the policeman told him that he was confiscating his vehicle. The young man's world collapsed around him as he futilely pleaded that insurance was definitely in force, to which the officer heartlessly said, "This vehicle is mine." The young man was suddenly out of a vehicle late at night and hundreds of miles from home. I was in line with the young man for a few hours and helped him reach his insurance company who confirmed that insurance was in force, but that there had been a beauracratic breakdown at their end and the active coverage data had not been properly sent to the DMV. The DMV then insisted that only a live fax of the data would do, as they admitted that their fax lines were often tied up. He is a start-up entrepeneur who is building electric powered bicycles that are styled like choppers. This catastrophic disruption not only forced him to miss a televised interview scheduled in LA that morning, but the $1,000+ being demanded by the combined weight of the Escondito Police, the Towing Company & the DMV (to confirm what was already true) exceeded his liquid resources and limited acceptable forms of payment almost made him leave the DMV empty handed, further condemning him to additional storage charges and missed business opportunities. The woman behind the DMV counter was sympathetic, as she confirmed the insurance was in force, but she would not accept a credit card, the only resource the young man had left. The starkness of this injustice compelled me, a complete stranger, to pay the DMV bill so that he could have a prayer of getting back on the road and bring this nightmare to an end. Apparently, he was able to get back to the impound lot minutes before it closed. I realize that all governmental entities are under pressure to maximize their revenue as millions of Americans are also forced to make hard economic choices in this contracted economy, but it is hard to see how these Draconian measures serve the overall public good. Further, these punitive assaults could easily push people on the economic brink over the edge. Then, us taxpayers could pay many times Escondido's bounty in unemployment or other public assistance that are then required.
— August 4, 2010 2:55 p.m.

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