Hi all, longtime reader here, new poster. While dealing with multiple personal hardships (more inside), I had a lapse in insurance coverage for 10 days. This has snowballed into a major issue for me, and I may lose my driving privileges for 3 months, which means losing my job. Any and all advice/anecdata appreciated.
posted by cardinality to Travel & Transportation around Pennsylvania (7 answers total)
Hi all, longtime reader here, new poster. Please bear with me regarding some of the backstory; I'll keep it as brief as possible. I'm located in PA.
So, I've been dealing with severe mental health issues off and on since the middle of last year. It's impacted my ability to take care of anything but the basics, essentially. I lost my primary job at the end of August, my unemployment claim was denied, and at the time I made too much for Legal Aid and couldn't afford a lawyer to help me appeal the decision. I've been struggling to get by since this happened.
I had missed (iirc) my insurance payment which was due on 11/28, and by 12/26, my insurance was canceled. I couldn't afford to get my insurance reinstated until 1/4. By this point, I was also three months behind on my car payment, and on 1/1 my car was repoed. It was only thanks to my dad's generosity that I was able to get the car back, on 1/8. The whole ordeal was unbearably stressful and more than I could afford, as I had to rent a car to get to work until I could get my own car back. (I work ~35-40 minutes away from where I live. It's in a rural area, so the bus/walk combo would take about 2-2.5 hours one-way, and I don't even know if the buses at that end still run when I get off of work, which can be anywhere from 10 PM to 1 AM.)
I received a letter from PennDot on 1/7 requesting a notarized affadavit stating that the vehicle hadn't been operated during those 10 days, but I was unaware that the insurance had expired (I thought I had a few days wiggle room, and had been waiting for my paycheck on 1/4), so I did drive to work on the 28th, 29th, and 1st. I freaked out about having to deal with this affadavit, let it go for too long while dealing with ongoing family and personal issues, and eventually had another downward spiral that resulted in an emergency room visit on 2/8. Since then, I've been tentatively diagnosed with a bipolar-spectrum disorder, and am waiting on a full psych eval + getting into a correct therapeutic/medication regimen. The psych appt isn't until the end of next month, and depending on the outcome of the evaluation, I may end up filing for SSDI. I don't know what is going to happen at this point. I can barely manage working P/T right now, and have been receiving some financial assistance from my dad, in addition to his help with the car, just to keep afloat. He can't afford to do this indefinitely, so I was hoping that after my appointment next month, I'd be on a meds combo that would allow me to take on another P/T job or just go back to F/T work.
So, on 2/15, I received another letter from PennDOT stating that my registration is being suspended for three months, effective 3/27. I have to mail all of my registration materials in and pay a $50 fee.
The letter states that I have the right to appeal this decision in the Court of Common Pleas within 30 days of the mailing date of the letter (today, 2/20), and have to send a time-stamped, certified copy of the appeal to the DMV.
I'm feeling unbearably stupid and defeated at this point. I rely on my car for work, and I also provide 90% of the transportation needs for a disabled, non-driving family member.
If I provide documentation of everything that's been going on, is there any hope that I might be able to avoid this based on a "hardship" scenario, pay a fine, or otherwise avoid losing my car for three months? If I lose my car, I'll lose my job, because the job duties are location-dependent. I don't know if I would get unemployment or not in this case. I have no options for ride-sharing, have no one to borrow a car from, etc. I'll still have a valid license, so I can drive provided I can find an alternate vehicle.
My options, as I see them, if the appeal process fails:
a.) I live near a major city in PA, and have access (I think) to both FlexCar and ZipCar. I don't know enough about them yet to determine if I can get by with that type of service, so I need to investigate their policies regarding standing reservations.
b.) I have a mountain bike and could theoretically suck it up and bus/bike commute *to* work, but getting home from work could be difficult.
c.) Start searching now for any semi-decent job within bus/bike distance, but that would mean giving up a good P/T job (in IT) where I have some tenure, make $13+/hour, and am given a large degree of autonomy in my daily tasks. My relative lack of coworkers is really the only thing that helps me continue to show up to work.
d.) Give up on car ownership right now, let my car be voluntary-repossessed, and try to find an apartment in the city when I'm able to do so.
Re: d.) - To add a fly to this ointment, I just found out that my roommate is likely moving in with his girlfriend as of next month, which would mean that as of 4/1, I'll be saddled with the full $645/month rent for our two-bedroom apartment. I have the option of converting to a month-to-month lease for an additional $50/month, but if I were to move out and try to find a cheaper apartment in the city proper, I'd have to give a minimum of 60 days notice. So that doesn't help me, either. I'd hope that I could find a new roommate before the 1st, but I can't count on that. I may have the option of finding someone to assume/take over the lease, and if my landlord will allow that, I'd be able to move sooner.
I'm at an impasse. I know I've screwed up, and I'm going to focus on getting my mental health and stability back. In the meantime, I have a mess to clean up and not sure where to begin.
Any and all advice is sincerely appreciated.