Sunday, May 15, 2011

My DMV Nightmare Experience

I know, I know.  What's new?  The DMV is always a nightmare, right?!  Well, believe me, things can always get worse.  Here in my neck of the woods, the chicks working at the DMV have fingernails 3 inches long.  Really, seriously, no exaggeration.  These chicks hunt and peck with two fingers to enter information into computers while people wait in lines that snake through the place and out the front door to stand in the sun for hours with a hundred other people.  This is SOP around here.  But believe me it can get worse.

This year 2 months before my (undisclosed) birthday when my license was set to expire, I received a letter telling me that I could renew online.  I thought, "Oh! Thank God! No DMV nightmare this time."  I proceeded directly to the website, entered my PIN, and dutifully paid my $33.  And waited to receive my license in the mail.  And waited.  And waited.  In the midst of all the waiting, I completely forgot about it until several days after my birthday, when I realized my license had expired.  I went back to the CA DMV and found out that there was a major backlog and delay in licenses due to a new system.  I'm not certain, but I think this might be the exact point at which my life started to radically shift into the movie Brazil.

I read on the CA DMV site that if my application was over two months old (it was) that I should send an email asking about the delay.  I did.  I received this response:
"Thank you for contacting the Department of Motor Vehicles regarding your
driver license (DL).Your driving record indicates that your driver license renewal
application is pending Problem Driver Pointer System (PDPS) clearance.
In order to resolve this matter, please contact the DMV PDPS Unit at
916-657-8849 for further assistance. Thank you for the opportunity to respond to your concern.  We appreciate your patience, and apologize for any inconvenience this has caused you."

I called.  I was informed that the new (dreaded) National Drivers Register was preventing completion of my license renewal due to a problem in Illinois.  I had a license in Illinois from 1984 (I know, telling) to 1986.  It was during this time period that I received my one and only speeding ticket ever.  At the time of that ticket, I not only paid the fine but took a drivers' safety course offered by the Highway Patrol to clear my record for insurance and points.  So naturally I thought, there must be some mistake.

On Monday, April 25, I called (217)785-3108 in Illinois and was informed that my reference number was my old license number.  They instructed me to call the Traffic Division at (217)785-8619.  The woman (I didn't get this one's name. My bad.) at this number told me that in order to get my California driver's license I had to pay Illinois $75.  The plot thickens as the shakedown begins.

I asked why I should pay Illinois $75.  What was it for?  All she would tell me was that I had to pay Illinois $75 for a reinstatement fee.  I asked what this was about, and the woman said she would call me back with details.  More waiting.  No calls.

On Wednesday, April 27 at 12:00 noon, I call the Illinois Traffic Division again.  This time I spoke with a woman who identified herself as Crystal.  She also informed me that I had to pay Illinois a $75 fee.  When I asked why, she simply said, "If you want your California driver's license you have to pay us $75."  This is beginning to sound an awful lot like fraud and blackmail to me.  She, too, said that she would look into the cause of the fine and return my call.  This time I knew I would not be getting any answers later.  The game was becoming clear.

At this point, I called the California DMV to try to report to them what was going on.  All they would say was that they had no control over Illinois, and I had to pay regardless.  There is no one to report this to at all.  The game is on!  Fraud , blackmail, potentially someone in Illinois is embezzling these untraceable fees.  All that the CA DMV will say is, "I'm sorry.  We have heard many reports of strange things going on in Illinois.  You should never have gotten a license there.  It is out of our jurisdiction."  Okay.  I appreciate the sympathy, but this is not helpful.  I need a license to drive, to conduct banking, to board a plane!

More waiting.  No calls.

On Monday, May 2 at 1:40 pm, I called the Illinois Traffic Division again.  This time I spoke with an agent who identified herself as Angie.  Same routine: will not tell me why I owe a fee, I simply must pay if I want a California driver's license.  What can I do?  I pay the blackmailer her requested amount: $75.  She takes my VISA card number over the phone, like any other purchase transaction.  When I ask to speak to her supervisor, she refuses.  I am told her supervisor is Michelle.  Michelle will be notified of my concerns and will call me back.  Okay.  I have heard this line many times now from Illinois.

I get off the phone and decide that this incident should be reported.  But to whom?  At this point, I come to find that there is no oversight at all for the State DMV offices and practices.  They could literally start dragging us away in the middle of the night, and there is no one to report anything to, no one cares.  Fraud, extortion, blackmail.  Anything is game for the DMV!  No oversight at all.

I spent several days calling offices all over DC.  I figured there must be some federal jurisdiction over the local DMVs, but no.  Well, what started all this?  The dreaded National Driver's Register, a federal program.  Have you ever tried to get anything done on a federal level.  Riiiiight.  Transferred from office to office while they pass the buck and try to figure out which of the billion federal employees is supposed to handle this specific issue.  After two days, I finally call (and of course, leave a voice mail message for) Sean McLaurin of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  He is in charge of the National Driver's Register.  Several days later, his secretary returned my call.  She was sympathetic.  She said she has received many complaints of similar concerns from individuals dealing with the Illinois DMV.  They seem to be aware that something is amiss.  It is not their jurisdiction.  But it is their program (the National Driver's Register) that has opened the door for the individuals in this office in Illinois to perpetrate this fraud and blackmail scheme on innocent individuals who have long since moved from the state.  Out of our jurisdiction, mam.  But there must be someone!  No one oversees these offices at all!  All of this bureaucracy, and they are under the wire?  "You can write a letter to Ray Lahood, Secretary of the Department of Transportation."  So I guess that I will snail mail him a copy of this blog post.

Within several days of giving Illinois credit card information, I noted on bank records that the payment posted.  I called the CA DMV, and was told that I was cleared from the National Driver's Register.  The system should automatically update and send my license.  I requested a temporary in the meantime.  Two weeks have passed.  To date, still no temporary nor license.  I suppose a further round of harrowing phone calls is in order.

I post this entry to my blog in my hope that someone may find it when they Google Illinois DMV fraud, as I did.  We need to start some kind of "paper trail" or record for what is going on in that office.  This is an exact record or diary of my very frustrating interactions with the Illinois Traffic Division.  Please post a response if you have had a similar experience.  Illinois is the land of some of the biggest government corruption ever  perpetrated in America, so this I guess this is minor by comparison.  Small consolation.

All names and dates are real facts in this report.  I have changed no names to protect the innocent, because there are no innocent.

Now back to better thoughts.  Dolly blogging. . .


  1. I'm glad you posted this because I'm going through something similar to this except it happened in the state of Hawaii. I've been trying to renew my license here in CA and I paid reinstatement fee to the CA DMV already and then my name showed up in this PDPS system and they gave me this 916-657-6525 number to call and I was informed of the same dreaded National Driver's Register. So anyway, they gave me a bunch of numbers to call in Hawaii and ended up getting in touch with the District Attorney who told me that the case for this was dismissed and there was no record on me. So I'm thinking, what's the hold up? She actually sent me and the Hawaii DMV a stamped copy of it. I ended up calling this other number and talk to Kimberely Awana and she tells me that she can't clear my name until I take a driver evaluation class for a ticket I got back in 1992 for drinking on the beach which was paid and the case dismissed. Oh and she then proceeds to tell me that I need to send $100.00 to the Maui DMV. I don't understand why I need to take a class on a case that was dismissed. Funny thing, I don't even drink now. Oh and did I mention that this class costs $200.00? So that adds up to $300.00 for a case that was dismissed. In the meantime, I have no license until it is cleared. Do you have any other suggestions on who I can call? This is ridiculous. Is Sean McLaurin in charge of the National Driver's Register for all states or just the state of Illinois?

  2. Yes, The DMV is out of control. I have never had an accident. Nothing. No points on my record. I moved from VA to NY, and then from NY to Wisconsin. First, New York charged me a fee for returning my plates too late. Ok fine. Then VA charged me retroactively because I didn't provide them with an 'SR-22'---proof of insurance---for the time I was in New York. I provided said proof, twice---I provided specifically what they asked for. They are still charging me $500 and they won't lift the restriction on my license.

  3. Yes, The DMV is out of control. I have never had an accident. Nothing. No points on my record. I moved from VA to NY, and then from NY to Wisconsin. First, New York charged me a fee for returning my plates too late. Ok fine. Then VA charged me retroactively because I didn't provide them with an 'SR-22'---proof of insurance---for the time I was in New York. I provided said proof, twice---I provided specifically what they asked for. They are still charging me $500 and they won't lift the restriction on my license.

  4. Illinois, don't get me started...
    I'm no driving angel, I've committed plenty of infractions, but when trying to get my license back recently, I found that Illinois (where I live) won't even accept the $70 reinstatement fee until I get a 'Failure to pay fines stop' resolved in Cook County. The Bradley Illinois DMV gave me a ticket number (from 1988) that does not appear in any database that Cook County can find. You think Illinois is bad, try dealing with Cook County. Chicago. The city where getting a contract requires a $10,000 bribe for the Alderman in the appropriate district, and that's just to find out who to bribe next! (hint: everybody)
    And I can't get a driver's license because of an unknown (probably parking) ticket from 1988?
    I'm just saying.
    Been bounced from phone extension to phone extension today and looking forward to plenty of that tomorrow until somebody finally just comes up with the name or address or Caymen Island bank account of whomever I must bribe to get my license back.
    Wish me luck, I feel your pain!

  5. Call 916 657 8849 for PDPS clearance, I just called because I had the same issue trying to get a CA DL and had something in my record from my TX DL. I provided both DL numbers to the awesome lady "technician" and she was able to clear it up in less than 5min craaaaaaazy!!
    Department of safety provided me with the pdps number so shout out for them too
    I'm happy