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Lawsuit accuses BMV of overcharging for driver’s licenses

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A lawsuit filed in Marion County claims that the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles has overcharged residents for their driver’s licenses by as much as $7 per license.

Cohen & Malad LLP filed the proposed class-action suit on behalf of Tammy Raab, who paid $21 for a license on Feb. 16, 2010. According to the suit, under Indiana law, since October 2008, the most a person under the age of 75 can be charged for a six-year license is $15; $13.50 for a five-year license; and $14 for a four-year license. The BMV charges $21, $19.50 and $18, respectively, for the licenses.

There is a base price for the three types of licenses outlined in Indiana Code and Public Law, and several fees are allowed to be imposed, including a Transaction Service Charge. But the lawsuit alleges the state agency has overcharged Hoosiers, resulting in tens of millions of dollars in overpayments.

The suit claims some residents have been overpaying since 2007.

“This action seeks to remedy this longstanding practice by requiring the BMV to disgorge the millions of dollars in illegal fees to the Indiana residents who paid them, and to enjoin the BMV from charging a fee for the issuance of an Operator’s License to persons under the age of 75 that exceeds the amount allowed by the law,” according to the suit.

The proposed class is “all persons who are currently citizens of Indiana and who, since March 7, 2007, paid a fee to the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles to obtain or renew a motor vehicle Operator’s License while less than 75 years of age.”

“Hoosiers’ ability to drive their cars cannot be held hostage to arbitrary fees imposed by the BMV. The BMV does not have the authority to charge fees at its discretion,” said attorney Irwin Levin of Cohen & Malad. “In some instances, Indiana drivers were overcharged as much as $7 for their license. The BMV needs to be held accountable and Indiana residents deserve restitution.”

The suit seeks class certification, damages or restitution for Raab and the proposed class against the BMV in the amount of the overcharges, an order preventing the BMV from charging a fee for the issues of the licenses to people under 75 that exceeds the amount allowed by law, and attorney fees, costs and interest.

The case is Tammy Raab, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated v. R. Scott Waddell, in his official capacity as Commissioner of the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles and the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles, 49D06-1303-PL-8769.

 

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  • well ok but
    Cases like this keep the public officials honest. I applaud them. I would also like to see the same vigor applied to banks who enjoy state and federal subsidies and protections which are used to develop their overweening power over their customers and then expropriate by arbitrary changes of terms at will. I think the banks make the BMV look like a really friendly and honest operation!
  • Really???
    28 cents, 28 cents. I am entitled to 28 cents refund. it isn't even worth my time to request it. Let alone the costs involved in printing, mailing and processing a check. In my business, it costs a minimum of $1 to receive a check for payment, credit the appropriate account and deposit the check. Was this lawsuit, the Court's time and all of the reporting on this matter worth $0.28. NO. Stop the frivolous lawsuits. Even the "up to $7.00" as quoted in the article seems ridiculous.
  • for the greater good
    instead of refunding all this money, why not divert it to the construction cost of the new east end bridge and ease up on toll fees for all Indiana residents.It seem like this wood be the smart move and the money wood be put to a good use sense Indiana tax payers are footing the bill anyway.

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  1. Mr. Levin says that the BMV engaged in misconduct--that the BMV (or, rather, someone in the BMV) knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged fees but did nothing to correct the situation. Such misconduct, whether engaged in by one individual or by a group, is called theft (defined as knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over the property of another person with the intent to deprive the other person of the property's value or use). Theft is a crime in Indiana (as it still is in most of the civilized world). One wonders, then, why there have been no criminal prosecutions of BMV officials for this theft? Government misconduct doesn't occur in a vacuum. An individual who works for or oversees a government agency is responsible for the misconduct. In this instance, somebody (or somebodies) with the BMV, at some time, knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged. What's more, this person (or these people), even after having the error of their ways pointed out to them, did nothing to fix the problem. Instead, the overcharges continued. Thus, the taxpayers of Indiana are also on the hook for the millions of dollars in attorneys fees (for both sides; the BMV didn't see fit to avail itself of the services of a lawyer employed by the state government) that had to be spent in order to finally convince the BMV that stealing money from Indiana motorists was a bad thing. Given that the BMV official(s) responsible for this crime continued their misconduct, covered it up, and never did anything until the agency reached an agreeable settlement, it seems the statute of limitations for prosecuting these folks has not yet run. I hope our Attorney General is paying attention to this fiasco and is seriously considering prosecution. Indiana, the state that works . . . for thieves.

  2. I'm glad that attorney Carl Hayes, who represented the BMV in this case, is able to say that his client "is pleased to have resolved the issue". Everyone makes mistakes, even bureaucratic behemoths like Indiana's BMV. So to some extent we need to be forgiving of such mistakes. But when those mistakes are going to cost Indiana taxpayers millions of dollars to rectify (because neither plaintiff's counsel nor Mr. Hayes gave freely of their services, and the BMV, being a state-funded agency, relies on taxpayer dollars to pay these attorneys their fees), the agency doesn't have a right to feel "pleased to have resolved the issue". One is left wondering why the BMV feels so pleased with this resolution? The magnitude of the agency's overcharges might suggest to some that, perhaps, these errors were more than mere oversight. Could this be why the agency is so "pleased" with this resolution? Will Indiana motorists ever be assured that the culture of incompetence (if not worse) that the BMV seems to have fostered is no longer the status quo? Or will even more "overcharges" and lawsuits result? It's fairly obvious who is really "pleased to have resolved the issue", and it's not Indiana's taxpayers who are on the hook for the legal fees generated in these cases.

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