Have authorities ever taken your car away? Well it happened to me
If you read Unplanned trip to Baku: good and bad surprises — Part 1, you may know that I tried to go to Baku on Jan 2 but due to some unfortunate circumstances, after reaching the boarder, we had to come back to Tbilisi and restart our journey the next day.
What was the reason you may ask? What happened?
Well, when reaching Georgia-Azerbaijzan border, Georgian authorities stopped us took our documents then in several minutes they asked us to park the car on the side and wait. We waited around 20 minutes in the car and then some guy came and asked us to take our stuff from the car and follow him. We took our stuff and went to an office of some kind of boss. The guy was talking on the phone. Once he finished talking, he told us that there is some unpaid debt and that’s why they are taking away our car. He couldn’t explain what debt he is talking about — we checked online — we didn’t have any unpaid fines and we never took a loan in a bank. He told us he doesn’t know the details and we can’t pay it on the border — we need to come back to Tbilisi and go to Law Enforcement Bureau and… Jan 2, Monday, was official holiday in Georgia so this place wasn’t working and we couldn’t call there are ask what’s wrong and we couldn’t go there the same day. The guy told us we should wait for evacuation service representative to come and take away our car. So we waited…and when a representative came — he just took car keys and drove a car! Also they didn’t want to give us any official papers about taking away our car, but we insisted on at least taking a photo of legal act of car evacuation. Georgian authorities then kindly asked us if we want to walk to Azerbaijan! I thought it was a joke but it was a serious question. For sure, we didn’t wanna leave our car somewhere with unknown people for unclear reason. So frustrated and sad, we took 2 marshrootkas and 1 taxi to come back home…
Next day in the morning we headed to National Bureau of Enforcement. The building looked pretty cool outside
As well as inside
There we found out that our car was taken because of overdue fine for 10 lari (100 UAH / $4) for talking on the phone while driving. Because the fine was overdue — they declared our car wanted and that’s why guys on the border stopped us. Needless to say, this fine wasn’t listed on the official website for checking fines — according to the website we didn’t have any unpaid fines. And cuz the fine was overdue we had to pay more — 40 lari (400 UAH, $15).
It seems ridiculous to me that because of $15 dollars someone would take our car away. It’s really really really stupid. They think we will escape the country and never come back or what? Why it’s not possible to pay a fine on the border? Why we need to come back to the city? Why they even can’t give an explicit reason of why they take away the car — what’s the problem. It really pissed us off.
And it isn’t the end of the story. Our car was evacuated to a city close to the border. We needed to go to the police station there and show that we paid the fine and then the police would give us some document that we would show in evacuation center. For sure it took us time to go to the Police first and then to the Evacuation center. Evacuation center was in the middle of nowhere and it was hard to find it. When we came there and gave them papers, they asked us to pay around 210 lari (2100 UAH, $80). Very nice! We asked why so much money? And they said it’s 4 lari per km + around 50 lari for evacuation. And this city — Rustavi — was around 40km from the border.
And also we couldn’t pay online or with credit card or cash — we had to go to the bank and come back with the receipt.
So to sum up, stupid Georgian laws
a) wasted 1 day of our life, made us spend in 1 day more than $100 (on fine, evacuation + marshrootkas and taxis)for nothing
b) ruined our travelling plans — we wanted to meet with friends in Baku and Jan 2 was the only day we would be in Baku at the same time — they were leaving on Jan 3
c) made us cancel our hotel reservations and lose one extra day in amazing Baku.
And to be honest, it’s not something you would expect in Georgia. It seems to be pretty safe country without corruption. I can try to understand taking away a car if a person has a fine, but I can’t understand WHY they can’t explain on the border what exactly is wrong — why they can’t give concrete reason. Also I would expect to be able to pay a fine on the border or online, but coming back to the city — it’s last century and not something acceptable nowadays.