Car was repossessed, and other COVID-19 related questions

(WSVN) - Like so many South Floridians, COVID-19 cost him his job. He fell behind on his bills, and then his car was repossessed. He called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser, and so did other people about gyms, unemployment and much more.

Latrell Robinson: “During COVID, I was out of work for some time.”

The words come from Latrell, but so many South Floridians could say the same thing.

Latrell Robinson: “I got set back a lot, so it just kind of put me in red a lot, in debt.”

When the coronavirus cost Latrell his job, he used what little money he had to take care of his two sons.

Latrell Robinson: “Definitely a lot of stress about bills, like being behind on things, especially my car payment.”

Latrell was a month behind on the payments for his Dodge Charger.

Then in May, he got his job back and called the finance company.

Latrell Robinson: “My payment was only $175, and at the time, I only had $100, so I wanted to put that down.”

The dealer wanted Latrell to pay the back payment and the current payment. Even though he was working, that was impossible.

Latrell Robinson: “My money was different now. It’s not the same amount I was making before. I’m making less money now.”

Then, one day at work, it happened.

Latrell Robinson: “They actually came to my job and took my car on Tuesday, so that was already embarrassing there. Everyone at my job is calling me, trying to chase down the tow truck for me.”

Now Latrell owed the back payments plus the $650 repo fee, dooming him.

Latrell Robinson: “I told the lady, like, ‘We are in the middle of a pandemic right now. How are you going to take my car and leave me out there like that?'”

The state gave breaks to renters, the feds gave a stimulus, so, Howard, any leeway for people who can’t make a car payment?

Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “No. Not only will the car be repossessed; to get it back, you have to pay all the money owed and the repo fee. It’s just another crushing blow from somebody already hurting from the coronavirus.”

Money would solve Latrell’s problem, and a question we get a lot: are people going to get a second stimulus check?

Howard Finkelstein: “Well, the House approved a second check, but the Senate hasn’t officially done anything about it. Who knows what politicians in Washington will do?”

Howard, a lot of schools and universities are requiring students or parents to sign a waiver that they will not sue the school if they contract the coronavirus. Can they do that?

Howard Finkelstein: “Legally, there is no answer. The courts have not ruled on this and won’t for a while, but realistically, it doesn’t matter if you sign it, because if you got the virus, it would be almost impossible to prove you got it at a school and not at home or anywhere else you went.”

Many Floridians’ driver’s licenses have expired, and they have to renew them in person and can’t get an appointment. If they drive, Howard, will they get cited for an expired license?

Howard Finkelstein: “Not right now. If your license expired since March, the governor has given drivers until June 30th to renew the license, and if you can’t get an appointment to do it in person, we have a link to print a temporary license to use until you make it official.”

Latrell was getting ahead. Then the coronavirus knocked him back.

Latrell Robinson: “I’ve been through it a few times, where I’ve started and built myself so high up, and then I dropped.”

Good luck, Latrell, as you try to move forward.

It is stunning how many people have not gotten that first stimulus check and still cannot get unemployment. The links to try to get them are under this Help Me Howard story, as well as the link to request a temporary driver’s license if yours has expired.

Howard Finkelstein: “If you have questions or problems, you need us to solve, whether it’s coronavirus or the old-fashioned headaches, we are here for you. Contact us, because we would love to help you out.”

Reporter: Patrick Fraser at
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

Stimulus money questions and answers

How to get your stimulus check

If you are not required to file a tax return, but entitled to a stimulus check, click here.

For unemployment claims specific questions, call 1-833-FL-APPLY and choose the “claims specific” option.

Drivers License Renewal and Temporary License Information:

Currently, the effective period of driver licenses and identification cards with expiration dates on or after May 1, 2020, through May 31, 2020, has been extended for 30 days.

Miami-Dade and Broward are open by appointment only through our online booking system.

Miami-Dade driver license and motor vehicle service center information including location information, contact info, office hours, and a link to make an appointment can be found here.

Broward’s can be found here.

Information for all counties can be found here.

In situations where a customer is required by state and federal law to visit an office to renew their driver license rather than online, we are able to provide them with a temporary permit extending the expiration date of their current license due to travel restrictions and office closures that have resulted from COVID-19. Customers can submit a request for a temporary permit at: This temporary permit should be printed, signed, and kept with the driver’s current driver license. These permits provide additional time for the offices to reopen and give customers the chance to renew at an office.

Since March 1, 2020, the department has conducted over 1.4 million motor vehicle and credential transactions virtually through the department’s online services web page:

FLHSMV encourages Floridians who can, to complete their driver license or motor vehicle transactions online to ensure those who must visit an office are able to do so safely, quickly, and efficiently.

Customer service agents are available at 850-617-2000 for general inquiries from Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM. Self-service options are available by calling 850-617-3000.

Updates on FLHSMV’s response to COVID-19 can be found here.

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