Thursday, March 15, 2007
Help Me Howard: Suspended License
Almost twenty years ago, a South Florida woman was in a car accident and lost her driver's license because she didn't have insurance. Now, despite having paid her dues, she still can't get her license back. So she's hoping Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser can point her in the right direction.
WSVN -- When you get right down to it, most people's problems are recent and can be resolved. Not Monique's.
Monique Remy: "I was in an accident since 1988."
The accident was Monique's fault. Because she didn't have insurance, her license was suspended until she paid for the damage to the other car.
Monique Remy: "He said I get a judgment against me, and I have to pay $4,630.05."
Monique started paying the judgment in 1991, putting down $100 a month. Then, that little windstorm named Andrew visited South Florida, and she got hammered.
Monique Remy: "And there was no light, and you have to deal with the kids. I was having problems this big with my kids."
She was a single mom raising two kids, struggling day to day.
Ingrid Jean: "Growing up, she would work two jobs to take care of us, and the thing that's heartbreaking is she never lost her pride, never lost her courage."
But, unfortunately, she lost the ability to get ahead, to start repaying that debt. And so, without a driver's license, her two children spent their young years walking everywhere.
Ingrid Jean: "I remember one instance, that we needed to wash clothes, we had to take a buggy -- a shopping cart -- and we had to put all the clothes there, and she made it into a game for us to go wash clothes, simply because she was not able to drive."
By 2005, Monique finally had a few dollars, she found the man she had hit and paid him what he was owed. He wrote this letter releasing her from her debt to him.
But then, the lawyer who represented the insurance company told her, "Since you don't have any receipts from the money you paid in the beginning, you have to pay the entire $4,600 in a lump sum, which was impossible for Monique."
Monique Remy: "I don't have the money, and I need my license, and I need to work. In this country, if you're not working you can't eat."
Monique is devastated, and Ingrid says it's almost like she is a prisoner, going 19 years without a license.
Ingrid Jean: "Even prisoners get paroled. I hope Howard will be able to help her."
But, Howard, she still owes some of the money. No one knows how much, so, legally, can she get her license back?
Howard Finkelstein: "Legally, no. Judgments like the one imposed on Monique can last up to 20 years. Monique feels she has suffered enough, and the best way to get her license back is to get a release from the insurance company she owes the money to."
And, incredibly, when we contacted American Vehicle Insurance, the company Monique owed the money to, they were delighted to help. Their president told us, "American Vehicle has no inclination or intent to pursue the judgment from back in 1991." Hopefully, this will be sufficient to reinstate her driving privileges.
And it was. A few days later, we went with Monique when she got her driver's license re-instated..
(Man hands license to Monique). Monique Remy: "Thank you! I never thought I could have my license in my hand. It is a great thing you give me, guys. It's like you restart my life back again."
Getting a license seems like such a simple thing to you and me. To Monique it's a chance to do so many things.
Monique Remy: "I'm going to get a new job. Go back to school you don't know how much I need this!"
And now you have got it, Monique, a license to live a normal life again.
Monique Remy: "I'm going to drive. I'm going to drive. I finally got my deliverance. I'm going to drive! (she waves) Thank you, Howard. May God bless you!" (drives away).
One reason it was so hard for Monique to find the insurance company: they changed names. Give American Vehicle Insurance a lot of credit for offering to wipe out that $4600 judgment. It says a lot about them. As for that lawyer who tried to make Monique start paying all over again, for some reason he won't talk to us....
Feel like someone has been given a license to rip people off? Need to drive home a point? Contact us. We're hard-headed, and we'll find a way to get you back in control.
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