Many of us have heard the rumors of state agencies not being able to play nice with each other or failing to share important information through a central database as a way to more efficiently catch travelling criminals. Well, here is a story of an agency having received the information, but never utilizing it to its potential.
According to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, the Registry of Motor Vehicles received, but never processed notifications that their Massachusetts drivers suffered out-of-state violations, including DUI.
Governor Charlie Baker was quoted, “The fact the RMV failed to act on information related to the driver responsible for this is deeply troubling and completely unacceptable.”
The unfortunate and sad part is that this lapse in process came to light as a result of the arrest of one Volodymyr Zhukovsky, who holds a Massachusetts commercial license and who was suspected of killing seven motorcyclists with his pickup truck and trailer in New Hampshire after crossing a double yellow line.
Zhukovsky was charged with operating under the influence and refusing to take a chemical test in Connecticut only a few months prior. The Massachusetts RMV was notified of the charge in May but never processed the incident which should have been enough to suspend his license. It was found that Zhukovsky also had drug and traffic related incidents on his record from six different states.
An internal review by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, though preliminary, found issues with the processes for out-of-state violations of both commercial and personal driver’s licenses.
Many of the commercial license violations are automated. However, unless the information is entered automatically in a very specific way, the information must be entered manually. In the recent months, no employee was tasked to handle the manual notifications. It was also discovered that the notices that were sent via mail by other states were sorted, but never processed. Thousands of notices were found in a records room and being stored a whopping 53 bins. The past week has already seen hundreds of alcohol-related offenses that were serious enough to trigger a suspension in Massachusetts.
As of July 1st, 655 new license suspensions had been processed, all alcohol-related violations, and more are expected as they continue to sift through the 53 bins of notifications.
It has been reported that the state is going to be running all Massachusetts driver’s licenses through a national database to make sure that all violations relating to that license are recorded in Massachusetts.
It is hard to imagine that no one caught on to the fact that the notifications were not being processed. In both the manual processing of electronic notifications, as well as the increasing pile of unsorted mail notifications, no one questioned anything.
In most circumstances, I imagine that the individuals who thought they lucked out in that their charge was never fully processed are going to see their insurance rates go up once the state’s records catch up to the most updated information. And this is quite minor in terms of consequences that are catching up to them. Unfortunately, there are those who we wished were processed earlier so as to prevent such tragedy as was the case with the seven motorcyclists in New Hampshire. Nothing will bring them back, but hopefully this incident will cause other agencies and other states to consider their current processes and make sure that their information is up to date and shared information is also taken into consideration and processed so as to prevent such fatalities in the future.