I guess the island wanted to throw me one last little surprise-- I really hope this was its last gift, I can't take much more of this island's friendliness. So, I forgot to get new plates in time and my car was impounded yesterday. Today was a long, complicated journey to get it back. I thought I'd write a little how-to guide for any fellow students in a similar situation. Of course you never know if details may change, but here's what I had to do. Total cost: about $359, so if you don't think your car is worth that much, this might not be worth it but you'll still need to pay the fine if you don't want to be an outlaw here
When they take the car you get a ticket written in red ink. On the left side of it, sideways, is the fine: 150 Naf ($84) for not paying the "road tax". Also along the side it tells you where to go. You'll need new plates. Bring your insurance and inspection paperwork and go to the Nagico office in Simpson bay just before the bridge, or look for the Nagico guy in the Rotunda. He's usually there from about 11 till 12 or 1230 on some weekdays. You pay about $185 for plates and to have him go wait in line somewhere in P-burg to get them. It took him only a day for mine.
You'll need someone with a car to drive you places, or rent one and have a friend along, because in the end you'll have to drive to a lot somewhere to get your car. Also, try to bring a good island map, because it may be hard to find the private lot holding your car. Also, bring a screwdriver to change your plates (the guy at the lot at first wanted money just to borrow one) and change them before you leave the lot.
Next, go to Philipsburg. Take your plates and paperwork with you. First, go pay the fine. You go to the "Receiver's" office further East down the street from the police station in Phillipsburg. I think it's Frederich's or Richardson street or something. The office hours, I didn't write it down, but I think it's open 10-12 and 1:30 to 3 or so. They take a long lunch and during that time a big line may form waiting for it to reopen. I paid in guilders just to make sure they didn't give me trouble, but I saw people with dollars so they may accept them too. Then you get a receipt.
Walk down the road to the police station and go to the counter to the left when you walk in. There's no obvious line or anything, but try to get the attention of a police officer behind the glass. Explain you're here to get your car, show your plates and inspection paperwork and license to the the officer, and ask him to fill out the form you need to get the car released. If you don't ask, he may forget to do that, as he almost did with us. If he doesn't do it, ask him to actually call the private lot where the car is impounded and make sure they're open and it's there.
My car was being held at a private lot behind "Coastal car rental" on Sucker garden road or something, up the road north from the eastern end of P-burg, but I'm sure they use many lots. I had to pay $90 for the tow and impound fee, but finally, after a long day, I got my car back. Good luck!