A Logic Puzzle, or How Raymond Smullyan And I Ended Up Owing $150 to the MVA

Saturday, I received notification that I was in violation of Maryland’s car insurance requirements, because as of 7/1, I did not have an insurance policy on the car I had donated to charity back in May.
The basic cause of this problem is that when I cancelled the insurance on the car, a week later, after turning in the plates, as they say you are supposed to do, the insurance company back-dated the cancellation.
This was a learning experience for me, so I will pose the particulars of the scenario for you, gentle readers, that you might see for yourself how to donate a car to charity. If you get into trouble, ask your math teacher to help you.
Your goal is to give the car to charity without violating any laws. Any law you can not prove to have not violated will be assumed to have been violated.


  • You can’t park a car on the street without plates
  • You can’t have an insurance policy on a car you don’t own
  • You can’t cancel your insurance policy until you turn in your plates
  • The street is the only place to park your car when the charity comes to collect it
  • The charity gives you documentation of the date you signed the agreement to give them your car, not when they took possession of it.
  • If you leave the fox and the hen on the same side of the river unattended, the fox will eat the hen.
  • At the DMV, one clerk always lies and one always tells the truth. You can only ask one clerk one question. Preferably “Could you cancel my registration and take these plates back please?”

And just to keep up the charade, the solution is below the fold…

1. Give the car to charity
2. Flag down a passing time lord
3. Ask him to take you back in time 24 hours
4. Fight Daleks.
5. Return plates to MVA
Alternate Solution:
1. Do everything on the same day
2. Lie about what order you did it in
3. Since the MVA’s timekeeping resolution is 1 day, even though you were in fact in violation of the law, no one can prove it, and When I bought my N-1 car, I bought it used from a private seller and therefore did not get temporary tags at the time of purchase. The MVA won’t give you them ahead of time, because you car hasn’t passed inspection yet. Officially, what you are supposed to do is to have the car towed until it’s inspected and registered. But if you actually ask someone at the MVA, they will look over their shoulders to make sure no one is looking, and whisper that what you really should do is borrow the plates off of another car (preferably your own) and put them on the new car temporarily. And don’t get pulled over.they don’t care.

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