Single mom pays nearly $1,000 to get car out of impound, now can’t afford a lawyer to fight charge
A single mother in Thunder Bay is struggling to cope after her car was impounded by police and she had to pay nearly $1,000 in towing and storage fees.
“I had no money. I had nothing left after this hurdle of coming up with this money,” Shannon Mamakeesic said.
The trouble started in March, when Mamakeesic said she was informed during a random police check that her license was about to be suspended, but the officer said he couldn’t explain why.
Mamakeesic said she went to the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) office in the city, showed a clerk that she had paid her fine for a speeding ticket, and the reinstatement fee.
The clerk told her “it’s $150 and I’ll give you your licence back and you’re good to go in 48 hours,” Mamakeesic said.
‘I have my receipt showing I was reinstated’
That’s why the mother of six said she was so surprised when she was pulled over by OPP on April 3 and told her car was being impounded because she was driving without a license.
“When I did get pulled over, I showed him my receipt from MTO and said I have my receipt showing I was reinstated, but he said there’s nothing I can do, I have to do my job,” Mamakeesic said.
‘I was ready to throw in the towel, because I had no car, I had no money.’– Shannon Mamakeesic
The loss of her car was a devastating blow for Mamakeesic who said she needed it to get to her job placement as part of the Confederation College course she is taking.
She sold most of her belongings to come up with the $963 towing an impound fees.
“After I got rid of everything I was just at my wit’s end,” she said. “I was just like, ‘I don’t know how I’m going to do this’.”
Mamakeesic said she planned to quit college within two weeks of finishing the term. But then a guidance counsellor from her kids’ school came to her house and offered to help with rides.
“I was ready to throw in the towel, because I had no car, I had no money,” she said. “How am I going to live?”
A spokesperson for the OPP said once the MTO flags a driver in the computer system, officers who spot them have no choice but to take the car.
“There’s no discretion involved, the vehicle is to be impounded for seven days for a highway traffic act offence,” Sgt. Shelley Garr said.
Mamakeesic is charged with driving while under suspension under the Highway Traffic Act, Garr said. The OPP directed questions about the status of Mamakeesic’s licence to the MTO.
A spokesperson for the ministry said for privacy reasons he can’t say whether or not Mamakeesic is a licensed driver. Mamkeesic told CBC News that she has a G2 licence, classifying her as a “novice driver” under MTO rules.
The ministry has a different process for reinstating the driver’s licence of a novice driver who receives six to eight demerit points, for such things as speeding violations. The licence is suspended for 60 days and the driver has to attend a “demerit point interview.”
But Mamakeesic said there was no mention of an interview or a 60 day suspension when she paid to have her licence reinstated back in March.
The charge of driving while suspended carries a maximum fine of $5,000. Mamakeesic is scheduled to appear in court on May 22.
She said a paralegal told her that she could make a good argument for dropping the charges, but that legal support comes with a price Mamakeesic said she can’t afford.
“She said ‘give me $1,000, you don’t even have to show up to court and we can take care of this’,” Mamakeesic said. “I don’t have a thousand dollars. I’ll have to go in there and represent myself.”