`

Indiana BMV fees overhaul proposed after overcharging woes

January 7, 2016

Indiana's Bureau of Motor Vehicles would see its fee structure simplified under a bill presented Wednesday to legislators following an audit last year that found the agency had overcharged motorists more than $60 million since 2013.

The proposal discussed by the Indiana House's transportation committee calls for paring down the BMV's current 191 classifications for registering vehicles to about two dozen.

Committee Chairman Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, said the proposal he's sponsoring aims to reduce the complexity of vehicle registration charges while limiting any fee increases.

"This bill doesn't change a lot of policy — it clarifies a lot of things and makes it more usable for the people who have to work with it every day," he said.

An independent audit completed in May blamed the overcharges on a complex fee schedule that led to inconsistent charges for the same transactions and a lack of management oversight within the agency.

The agency has admitted to more than 100 weight-class overcharges in court documents filed as part of a class-action lawsuit seeking tens of millions of dollars in refunds. Reviews have also found some $13 million in undercharges to motorists for some fees and taxes.

A top BMV official told the committee that the overhaul proposal would address confusing — and sometimes contradictory — fee requirements that have been added to state law over many years.

"Overcharges, undercharges are the product of a complex web of fees," said Adam Krupp, the BMV's general counsel.

An example of simplification highlighted by Krupp would be charging the same fees for trucks and semitrailers based solely on their weight classes. He also said the agency would see its fee chart shrink from five pages to a single sheet.

The bill includes provisions that cap the "convenience fee" outside contractors are allowed to charge customers for handling services, such as vehicle title and registration work. Those fees would be capped at 150 percent of the BMV charge, and come with requirements that customers be notified of the additional charges and what they would pay for services at a BMV branch.

BMV officials have allowed companies to charge convenience fees for years, but lawmakers didn't explicitly authorize them until last year.

The committee is expected to vote on the bill next week.

Rep. Dan Forestal of Indianapolis, the committee's top Democrat, has been sharply critical of the BMV's management but said Wednesday he was encouraged by the proposal to overhaul fees.

ADVERTISEMENT

Recent Articles by Associated Press