3 On Your Side

Car owner unable to pay $1,600 impound fee

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(Source: 3TV) (Source: 3TV)

Starla Smith and William Myles are doing a lot of walking these days, but it's not exactly by choice.

Smith's 1999 Nissan Altima has been in an impound lot for more than two months, and the only way to get it out is to come up with $1,600.

"Nobody's got $1,600 just laying around and to just give away," Myles said. "Why would I give $1,600 away when I didn't do anything?"

Their problem started when Myles was stopped by police. When the officer ran his license, the Motor Vehicle Division kicked back information that indicated it had been suspended.

As required by law, police then called a towing company and had the Nissan impounded. Smith, who owns the car, said she was in tears.  

"Yeah, I started crying because I need my car and I'm like, 'How am I going to get to work the rest of the week?'" she said.

However, Myles said he did not have a suspended license and insisted that MVD's system had a glitch or error.  According to Myles, his license was suspended back in 2012 for an unpaid ticket out of Nevada, but he said it was immediately reinstated after he paid the fine.

Myles and Smith were unable to retrieve the vehicle due to their financial situation, so the car stayed in the impound lot.  

More than two months later, storage fees for the vehicle have swelled to $1,600.  

"I contacted 3 On Your Side because a friend said, 'Why don't you call 3 On Your Side because they just might help you out,'" Smith said.

It turns out that Myles' case was later dismissed by prosecutors because court documents indicated his license was "suspended in error."

As a result, the Tempe Police Department waived its mandated $150 impound fee. The tow yard where the car was being stored, however, still wanted to be paid.

Smith and Myles said they should not have to pay anything because they believe Myles' driver's license was never really suspended.  

After some more digging, 3 On Your Side discovered that Myles actually had another blemish on his driving record. That is what was really behind Smith's Nissan being towed.  It had nothing to do with that Nevada ticket that had been resolved.

Still, understanding that Smith and Myles have to drive to work every day, 3 On Your Side talked to the towing company and managed to get their bill down to just $400, which is a lot better than the original $1,600 that they owed.  

"Like I said, I've been stressed out," Smith said. "My hair has been falling out. I've been stressed out. Really stressed."

Smith told us she is getting the money together and intends to retrieve her car in the next day or two. She said she is so thankful the storage fees have been reduced to only $400.

Copyright 2015 3TV (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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