What happens to fines?
About two weeks ago, I was pulled over while driving home from school. It was the first time I'd ever been pulled over by a cop, which made me a bit nervous. I wasn't speeding, didn't run a red light, and wasn't quite sure what I was being pulled over for. The cop walks up to my window and asks for my license and my insurance card. Shit. I handed him my license and told him that I did not have insurance, not yet anyway. I had been planning to get insurance with my tax return, which I had yet received.
The cop was polite enough to give me a ticket and allowed me to go on home. Apparently the Department of Motor Vehicles had revoked my car's registration a day earlier. There was no way for me to know this, which is why the officer let me go without impounding my vehicle. In fact, I did not receive notification from the DMV until a couple days later, as they held onto the letter informing me of the revoked registration before finally mailing it (the date on the letter and the postage date were two days apart).
Immediately after, I drove and purchased insurance from Progressive, even though I had yet to receive my tax refund. I was expecting money from my school, so I wasn't too concerned (which I inevitably did not receive, another story altogether). After receiving the letter from the DMV, I called the number and told them I had purchased insurance on the day of the citation, before they mailed the letter, but after they revoked my registration (confused yet?). The woman informed me that I would be expected to pay $100 to reinstate my registration, plus registration fees. Again. I won't be at all surprised when they ask for emissions and safety inspection records, which are over two months old by now.
What's particularly annoying is that I have only been involved in one accident, which went unreported because the other driver more than likely did not have a driver's license, and he did not want the police involved. The only damage was a bent license plate. My car has been involved in another accident recently, although I was not driving it. It was parked, and some brilliant person veered into the back of my Jeep. They drove off, leaving me to foot the repair bill. Called the police, who then berated my decision to park on the wrong side of the road while doing nothing to actually find the culprit (although, in fairness, there was very little to go on). I must thank my parents who paid for the expense, which I have yet to reimburse them for. I'm a bad son.
So now, I have to pay a $400 fine for the "No Insurance" ticket, which brings me to this question: what do these fines go towards? I'll have spent about $500 just to get this resolved. Who gets this money? And if someone can't afford auto insurance, what makes the court think a person is going to be able to afford $400 in addition to insurance?
Or are these even the right questions?