« Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit decides one Indiana case, a dismissal | Main | Ind. Law - "Hamilton County Young Republicans chief arrested on 3rd drunken driving allegation" »

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Ind. Courts - Still more on: Suit claims "BMV Indiana overcharged millions of Hoosiers for driver's licenses"

Updating these ILB posts from March 7th (including the complaint) and March 21st (including the State's answer), yesterday Kristine Guerra reported for the Inpls Star:

The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles announced this morning it will issue a credit to Hoosiers who were overcharged for their driver’s licenses -- but an attorney who filed the lawsuit that prompted the action says it’s not enough.

The class-action lawsuit filed last March stated that the BMV has “systematically overcharged” Hoosiers since 2007, collecting as much as $30 million to $40 million more than allowed under state law. It alleged that the agency charged drivers under the age of 75 from $4 to $7 more in driver’s license fees than the state allows.

In a response to the suit, filed by Irwin B. Levin, the BMV later admitted that it “may have inadvertently overcharged” a significant number of drivers.

Last month, the BMV rolled back its driver’s license fees and said a miscalculation resulted in a $3.50 overcharge. The agency then cut the six-year driver’s license fee to $17.50 from $21, the five-year license to $16 from $19.50, and the four-year license to $14.50 from $18.

Effective immediately, the BMV will return the fees that were overcharged between March 2007 and June 27, which is when the reduced fees took effect, in the form of a $3.50 credit. This means, according to the agency, that the next time an Indiana driver conducts a transaction at a local BMV branch or through its website, the final charge will reflect the driver’s credit.

“In order to make Hoosiers whole, we believe it is important to return the overcharge directly to those who have been impacted,” R. Scott Waddell, commissioner of the BMV, said. “It is the right thing to do.”

Levin, however, said the BMV is not giving credits for all the money that it “unlawfully took.” Despite the announcement, he said the BMV still will not cover interest on the money it has kept and will not pay anyone who has moved out of state.

“There are many people who won’t be doing business with the BMV and won’t get any credit,” Levin said. “A kid who’s in college (out of state) is not registering his car here anymore.

Eric Bradner reports for the Evansville Courier & Press:
The attorney who accused the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles of overcharging motorists for years scoffed Friday at the state’s new plan repay that money by crediting Hoosiers’ accounts. * * *

Indianapolis attorney Irwin B. Levin filed a class-action lawsuit. He alleges that Indiana might have collected between $30 million and $40 million more than it should have including $8.8 million in 2012 alone as a result of the BMV’s fees.

That lawsuit is still pending, and Levin said the BMV’s latest move occurred outside of the legal case and without the court’s approval.

He said it amounts to “a nice gift,” but little more. He estimated that the BMV’s plan will pay Hoosier drivers about half of what they were overcharged not including interest.

“The plan that they’ve proposed doesn’t even pay all the damages that people have had,” he said. “So it’s a nice, cutesy way of trying to give them political cover, but it really doesn’t give them any credit in the lawsuit. They need to settle the lawsuit under court supervision.”

Another court hearing is scheduled for July 25, where Levin said he expects the BMV’s plan to credit motorists will be discussed. He said a potential settlement “can be as creative as necessary to make sure that it’s fair,” but that it must occur under the court’s supervision.

Under [BMV Commissioner R. Scott Waddell’s] leadership, the BMV has also faced a controversy over its denial and subsequent reversal of that denial of a pro-gay rights youth group’s effort to secure a specialty license plate.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on July 13, 2013 08:58 AM
Posted to Indiana Government