(WSVN) - When she didn’t have her proof of car insurance, the officer said, “Don’t worry, you have 30 days to show it.” But then, she got a $105 fine for not producing the insurance within 24 hours. So her question… can you be slapped with a fine for following the police officer’s instructions? For the answer, let’s bring in Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
Vahnessa has two young sons, and if you are a parent, you know what that means…
Vahnessa Esiten, followed officer’s instructions: “I’m always on my toes. I should say hustling and bustling. Two boys that go to separate schools so early in the morning, I’m going to get my 6-year-old in one end and driving back down to take the 3-year-old to the other end to his school.”
Recently, just after dropping off the 6-year-old, another driver pulled in front of Vahnessa, causing an accident.
That driver got cited for the fender bender, but Vahnessa got a ticket also for having an expired insurance card.
Vahnessa Esiten: “Oh, I must have printed the wrong insurance card, but my insurance is current, they still had to cite me on that.”
The officer was nice and told Vahnessa it would be easy to avoid paying the $105 ticket.
Vahnessa Esiten: “The female officer said, ‘Mail in a $10 payment and proof of insurance within 30 days.’ I said ‘OK.'”
The officer even wrote comply within 30 days. Vahnessa sent in proof of current insurance a few days later, but…
Vahnessa Esiten: “A month to the day that the incident happened, I received a letter stating I owed on the ticket. What do you mean I owe on the ticket?”
Vahnessa called the Broward Clerks Office to find out why she had to pay $105.
Vahnessa Esiten: “And according to the representative, the officer the very next day filed that I had 24 hours to show proof of insurance. Well that is not what was told to me! The female officer said within 30 days.”
Vahnessa explained to the clerk that the officer even wrote she had 30 days to turn in her proof of insurance, but it didn’t matter.
Vahnessa Esiten: “I’m being one thing told by the officer and then being told otherwise, ‘No, you owe this ticket now.'”
Meaning Vahnessa has to pay $105 for doing what it says on the citation she could do.
Vahnessa Esiten: “I don’t know who is at fault here, but it should not be me.”
Well Howard, did Vahnessa have 30 days to show her proof of insurance as the officer wrote or 24 hours as the Clerk’s Office says?
Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “The law allows an officer to give you 24 hours or 30 days to show proof of insurance. In this case, the officer cited her under the 24 hour section, but wrote and told her on the ticket she had 30 days. So in the eyes of the law, she was misled. It’s not her fault, she’s not guilty and doesn’t have to pay the $105 fine.”
We contacted Pembroke Pines Police. They looked into it and said their officer made a honest mistake. On the electronic ticket, the officer accidentally clicked 24 hours instead of 30 days and didn’t realize it.
Pembroke Pines Police are now correcting the mistake and wiping out the $105 fine.
Vahnessa Esiten: “When I got the call it was taken care of, it was like, ‘No way.'”
Vahnessa’s citation is wiped out… after she called us.
Vahnessa Esiten: “Help Me Howard really did help me out and I am glad that I contacted them.”
Why allow an officer to chose either 24 hours or 30 days for you to show proof of insurance? Howard says if someone hits you, you need their insurance information right away to start the process to fix your car. That’s for the 24 hour deadline. If there is no rush, it’s 30 days to show proof of insurance.
And by the way, to avoid this happening to you, the law allows you to use your phone to take a picture of your insurance card and show that to the officer to prove you have current insurance. Nice option.
Got a deadline driving you crazy? Wanna insure you get some help? Contact us. We can provide proof of our work. It’s on TV now.
With this Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser, 7News.
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