The Almighty Dollar

Restoring some fiscal sanity in our -- negative savings rate -- lives


Pressing your luck could cost you

In this wide world of passwords and PINs, keeping track of your car's permit expiration dates seems like such a hassle. As my friend just learned the hard way, putting off a renewal could cost you double or even triple the original amount.

His tags and parking permit expired four months ago, but until this week, he had been driving and parking on DC roads without incident. I guess you can say he's been lucky. Well, his luck ran out on Monday when his car got towed.

Sometimes he can be a bit flighty, but the bottom line is he didn't want to pay the $87 to renew his permits. Now it appears he will have to pay more than triple that amount to get his car back up and legally running. Here is the breakdown of costs:

Registration renewal = $72
Zone permit = $15
Car tow = $100
Tow storage ($20/day) = $80 (he picked it up yesterday)
Taxi to towing lot = $20

Whopping total = $287

Not to mention all the time he's spent trying to clear up this mess. His friend took him to the towing lot twice, and both times left without the car. First time the lot was closed. Second time they refused to let the car off the lot without proof of registration payment. At the DMV, he waited in line (of course!) to learn that his safety inspection had also expired, therefore, he could only get a temporary permit for his car. Since the towing lot is open during work hours, he cabbed it to the lot during lunch, and finally got his car.

Phew! And that doesn't include the horror he'll face at the safety inspection station...

(P.S. My husband points out that this presumes his car indeed passes inspection and no additional service work is needed!)