Frustration With Bureaucracy

department of redundancy

I received a letter from the DMV a week ago stating that my license was suspended in the state of Vermont. I then embarked on a journey of discovery in idiocy.

I have called the DMV in Vermont and in California. Additionally I was referred to something called the Driver Improvement department in Vermont as well as the Judicial Bureau. They don’t seem to know any information about what others are doing in the bureaucracy (although they were able to give me their phone numbers).

I was able to determine that 18 years ago, there were 10 citations issued and they were with my driver’s license information attached. Yes, I did type that it was EIGHTEEN years ago and that there are TEN citations. They were driving without a license and expired registration (meaning the officer never actually confirmed who the person was). Additionally, these occurred over the course of 6 months and my license was suspended in Vermont at that time (though they never arrested the person).

I never received any information about this until a week ago and continued to renew my license, get full FBI background checks and other high security checks over the years for my service in the Peace Corps and multiple school districts working with and transporting children.

I then was advised by a lawyer that I should ask the California DMV for a hearing and get a stay (so I can keep my license in compliance) until the hearing happens. I got shuffled around several departments in California including the Driver Safety Office and something called the PPPS (never did really find out what the acronym stands for) but they apparently CAN’T HELP ME EITHER. They just get records electronically from Vermont that say my license is suspended and they can’t do anything about it.

It seems that there are whole departments, with hundreds of people who get paid from our tax dollars who do ONE thing and it is never actually the thing YOU are calling for.

So I am redirected back to the office of Driver Improvement in Vermont because California refuses to do anything, even though they are the ones who are taking inaction on my renewal (although they have already cashed my renewal check) and they tell me to call each individual Police department where the tickets were issued from. I called the two departments and find out there are no longer any physical tickets and all they have are entries in the computer that don’t say much about what happened (this is before the computer system was invented, let alone in place). I then have to call this Judicial Bureau in Vermont to get them to give me a hearing to remove the tickets. (This is the third time calling the same office who did not tell me this information).

When I finally spoke to someone who was partially helpful, she tells me that there is a $35 non-refundable fee FOR EACH citation. I will be requesting that to be waived, believe me. In the meantime, I really am not sure what the next step will be and I am concerned that my license is going to expire and that I will have to pay reinstatement fees because it wasn’t done right.

In the pursuit of trying to do this right the first time, I contacted a lawyer to see if it could be taken off my mental plate. When I first spoke to him, he made it sound like it was a matter of filing a few papers and all would be easy-cheesy. When I spoke to him again to confirm what was happening, he quoted me a retainer fee of $500! I couldn’t believe it. That seemed a bit excessive considering the situation. I thought that if it was just about filing some motions and making some phone calls, that I could take care of it….Now I am reconsidering.

I have also, in the course of my research found that when the Driver Safety Office of the CA DMV does a hearing, the person who acts as judge is employed by the DMV (not a neutral agency). This person is also the prosecutor in the case as well as being the recipient of funds should the defendant be found guilty. Seems like a bit of a conflict of interest, no? The U.S. may be a democracy, but apparently draconian/communism rules our DMV.

How is it that citizens who have a clean record for over 20 years with no problems can suddenly be punished for something they did not do that occured two decades ago and that they were never notified of? The injustice here is overwhelming, yet my experience with our justice system along with the bureacracy of the DMV leads me to have a bleak outlook.