DC apologizes for mistakenly fining 913 drivers

WASHINGTON — Hundreds of D.C. drivers can breathe a sigh of relief after the city acknowledged its Department of Motor Vehicles mistakenly sent out hundreds of letters fining drivers. The head of the department says they will set the drivers’ records right.

“You know, I’m thinking, I’m going to go outside and there’ll be a boot on my car,” said Linda Feldmann after she received a letter from the D.C. DMV alerting her to a more than $1,200 fine for letting her car insurance lapse.

She is one of 913 D.C. drivers who got a letter mistakenly sent by the Department of Motor Vehicles, according to testimony given by the department’s director. Nora Fischer is another driver who said she spent the better part of three hours talking with her insurance company and representatives at the DMV to figure out the problem.

“The whole thing was a nightmare. I have a flexible work schedule, but those that don’t are really worse off,” Fischer said.

“I will apologize on behalf of the city to everybody being upset,” said D.C. Councilwoman and Transportation and Environment Committee Chair Mary Che, a Democrat who represents Ward 3.

Department of Motor Vehicles director Lucinda Babers, who was scheduled to testify on other matters Feb. 14, spoke about the mistake that was first reported by WTOP.

See the letter and initial report here.

“She indicated the insurance lapse letters were issued on February 8 … They were wrong and that they noticed it and they’ve corrected it,” Cheh said of Babers’ testimony.

Babers said new letters will be sent to those drivers who received the initial insurance lapse letters in error to clear them of any responsibility or balance. She said the records will be restored in the DMV system.

“They still don’t know why it happened. But she said that if anybody hasn’t gotten their notice that everything is OK or has further questions, she invited them to call 311 or email her directly,” Cheh said.

Feldmann, who received one of the initial letters, said she does not entirely trust that her records will be corrected until she gets documentation from the city.

“I really want that clearance letter and I really do want firm confirmation that this is over,” Feldmann said.

Fischer agreed and hopes that others get the second letter around the same time they notice the first.

“I hope that they have sent out the second letter already so that those 900 people don’t have the same panic and experience that I had,” Fischer said.


Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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