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Bad data at DMV: 3,000 suspended licenses not listed that way

February 8th, 2019

— Thousands of North Carolinians with rightfully suspended drivers licenses are listed in a key state database as having valid licenses, the Division of Motor Vehicles confirmed this week.

Thousands more may think their suspensions are up, but if they visit a DMV office to restore their licenses, they will likely be told they still owe suspension time.

The cause: Bad data in an age-old system.

The division says it believes some 81,000 driving records contain errors of varying impact. That’s a little more than 1 percent of the state’s 7.4 million drivers, DMV spokespeople said, and many of these errors have persisted for years.

There are different reasons for the problems, but the division said there are likely about 3,000 people whose licenses should be listed as suspended, but aren’t.


The DMV has not tracked how many people have had problems with restoration or other renewals because of these glitches, but spokespeople said there are potentially 6,000 drivers who could come in to have their license restored and learn they still owe suspension time.

The DMV has established a hotline for questions and suggested, in particular, that people with driving while license revoked charges from December 2015 to March 2017 call the toll-free hotline at 800-441-5296. Spokespeople said the division also has a consultant working to update its system and four employees internally on the problem.

“We take this very seriously,” state Department of Transportation Communications Director Nicole Meister said this week.

The issues were first reported by WBTV in Charlotte, which said it obtained an internal report detailing the problems and heard from concerned employees who requested anonymity to bring the issue to light.

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Three DMV spokespeople told WRAL News that they did not believe anyone has been mistakenly cited by law enforcement because of the problems. Spokespeople for the State Highway Patrol and the Raleigh Police Department said they don’t have any indication the issue had come up, and the state’s Administrative Office of the Courts, which handles administrative duties for the courts system, said it wasn’t aware of the problem at all.

Meister said that “it does not seem that there is a situation where … the officer would pull up your record, and it would be incorrect.”

The DMV said many of the problems stem from changes in state law. There’s a lag time between when a new law, or a new punishment for an old one, takes effect and when the DMV updates its system. People charged in the interim fall into a gap, and their records may be out of date, the division said.

Spokespeople gave several examples, including a law about passing a school bus that changed in recent years. They said some 32,000 out-of-state speeding ticket records also need to be checked for accuracy.

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About 19,000 problems stem from a software problem at the Administrative Office of the Courts that was fixed in 2017, DMV spokespeople said.

The AOC sends the DMV some 1.4 million records a year, a spokeswoman for that office said.

Meister said many of the issues are back-office matters drivers are unlikely to notice and that nowhere near 81,000 people will be affected.

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