To the Editor:
A while ago, my computer screen froze up and a message appeared telling me that a malware virus had control. I could unfreeze it by paying an exorbitant sum to a website. Eventually I unfroze the screen, but only after many hours of aggravation, without paying the perpetrator. Imagine my surprise to learn the state is engaging in a similar con game.
In August 2012, I had an accident on Bald Hill Road. Afterward, I got a police report (which I had to pay for) and filed paperwork associated with the incident. I thought I was through with the bureaucracy.
Then, last week, it was announced the DMV has suspended the licenses of more than 11,000 Rhode Islanders who failed to send requisite forms to the DMV following accidents. Apparently they failed to notify those drivers of the suspension. So I had to ask myself, did I send in that particular form? I can’t recall if I did. It appears some police departments don’t notify drivers there is other necessary paperwork besides their report. If you are stopped for a violation of any kind and failed to turn in DMV forms about the accident, you can be arrested, have your car towed for driving on a suspended license, get fined and have to pay a substantial fee to re-instate the license. Your lawyer may get a chunk of change, too.
The good news is, if you can’t recall whether you sent in the proper forms and thus might be suspended, you can check with the DMV to see if your name is on their list. You wouldn’t like to be surprised while driving, would you? It’s a simple thing to verify, either in person or online.
But you’ll have to get out your checkbook. Just to find out what your status is will cost you $17.50 if you appear in person, or $19.50 if you go online. Is that extortion or isn’t it? The state puts you in a criminal category and then charges you to find out if you’re eligible to go to jail.
The most ridiculous aspect of the situation is that the form merely duplicates what is already on the police report, and is regarded by the DMV as unnecessary paperwork. They intend to phase the form out, but that won’t take effect until July. In the meantime, they will collect enormous amounts of unjustified cash from people who are not on the list but are uncertain if they might be.
And the bureaucrats see nothing wrong with that.