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PROBE: March 18, 2002

March 18, 2002

HUBBY GUESSED WRONG — My husband says the Sheriff's Office probably impounded the man's car after he illegally parked at the fair because he probably had expired license tags. We have to pay for our car registration, so why shouldn't everybody else? — Wife, Imperial

Your husband is guessing and he's guessing wrong. The citation lists three reasons for the ticket, none for expired tags.

To make this easier, let's call the man with the impounded car Ed.

According to the ticket, Ed was cited for a suspended license, no insurance and illegal parking. All three are grounds for towing and impounding the car. However, his car was not only impounded, the deputy put a 30-day hold on the car.

Leaving the car stored at $25 a day for 30 days plus towing would run the tab to nearly $1,000. That's a lot of money for a man who works for minimum wage.

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We thought the 30-day impoundment was based on driving with a suspended license.

Ed, whose license was suspended four years ago when he was cited for drunken driving, insists the suspended license doesn't apply in the recent incident because he was not driving. The car was parked and he was not in the car when the deputy spotted it illegally parked.

Ed said he had been working at the fair. On the last day of the fair he got a friend, another fair employee who had been staying with Ed, to drive him to the fair in Ed's car to pick up their paychecks.

He said when he offered to get the friend to verify this, the deputy said, "If you move I will arrest you."

In his report, the deputy wrote that when he told Ed the car was illegally parked, Ed said, "I'll move it," climbed in the car and started the motor. That's when the deputy asked to see a driver's license, according to his report.

We don't know if Ed actually made the car roll or not.

Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Jim Burns said it was the citing deputy who decided to put the hold on the car — and the deputy may remove it.

Naturally, Ed will have to have a valid driver's license and proof of insurance before he can bail out his car but he will have to have both to get the car out in 30 days.

Burns said if Ed can present both, it's possible something may be worked out. If Ed can work this out, it would save him almost $1,000, enough to buy insurance.

QUESTION: I went to the Department of Social Services to apply for welfare. I can't write in English so I asked for help filling out the forms. They wouldn't do it for me. Don't they have to fill out the forms for me? — Didn't Apply, El Centro

There's no law guaranteeing help in filling out the forms but you can take the forms home and get somebody to help you, said Gary Andrews, a DSS program supervisor.

Save yourself some trouble because you're not going to get welfare here. You have an open Social Security Supplemental Income case in San Diego County.

But go back to the DSS office. Andrews said DSS may be able to help you get back to San Diego County.

A QUICK REFUND — Don't dismiss the idea of getting your tax refund quickly. Using e-file on my computer and direct deposit, I got my federal refund in six days — and my state refund in one day! — Filed, Seeley

Wow!

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