After the Registry of Motor Vehicles scandal unfolded this summer the agency ran a massive sweep of every Massachusetts driver through a national database of problem drivers. But Investigative Reporter Hank Phillippi Ryan found their sweep swept up at least one wrong guy. What happened? Hank investigates.
Brandon Davis had to do a lot of walking. Though his car sat in his driveway and his company truck was set to go, for weeks, Brandon couldn’t drive them!
“It’s horrible,” Brandon said.
Horrible, he says, because in August he got letters from the RMV. They said his driver’s license was suspended. Why? For driving offenses in Illinois and Indiana.
“Do you have an OUI in Illinois?” Hank asked.
“No,” Brandon responded.
“Do you have a reckless driving in Indiana?” Hank asked.
“No,” Brandon said.
Brandon is an electrician from Taunton and depends on driving to get to work. So a suspension was a disaster and a mystery.
“Have you been to Illinois or Indiana?” Hank asked.
“No, never been,” Brandon said.
So what happened?
We found after the Massachusetts registry scandal revealed the RMV failed to open dozens of boxes of out of state driving violations, Registry officials decided to run every Massachusetts driver through a national database of problem drivers.
As a result, more than a thousand drivers, including Brandon, got suspension letters. The problem was they got the wrong Brandon.
Registry officials told us the Brandon Davis, here in Massachusetts, has the same birth date as some bad-driving Brandon Davis in the Midwest, and their system decided they must be the same person.
“There’s got to a be a lot of people like that in my position,” Brandon said.
How many other drivers were incorrectly suspended? Massachusetts registry officials say they don’t know.
But attorney Brian E. Simoneau who works with drivers like Brandon says since the registry sweep, he’s had an increase in calls.
“People are shocked and horrified to get this letter from out of the blue about a violation that occurred in a state where they’ve never been in that state,” Simoneau said.
When Brandon complained, the registry told him he had to sort it out with the other states. And when he called Indiana he says they told him he had to go there in person!
“I was pretty upset,” Brandon said.
To save Brandon a trip, we contacted Indiana officials about the mix-up, and they sent us a letter allowing Brandon to get back on the road.
“Thank you very much,” Brandon said.
We found the national database of problem drivers has a problem of its own. States are not required to enter middle names or social security numbers, so people with common names are more likely to be accused of something they didn’t do. If you’re dealing with a surprise suspension, let Hank know, email: TellHank@whdh.com
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