I-Team: RMV error leaves driver wondering how many others were robbed of license
WESTFORD - Imagine suddenly losing your driver's license with no explanation at all. That's what happened to a Westford man who felt like he went to the ends of the earth to get it back, only to find out it was all a big error by the state.
Victor Weisenbloom's vehicle is specially outfitted with a handle on the wheel for his disability, and he stands by his driving record. "Never been stopped...I drive safely," he said. The WBZ I-Team checked his record and found he hasn't had one incident since he got the adaptive handle more than a decade ago.
So, imagine his surprise when he got a notice in the mail last year saying his license would be suspended, and he needed to request a hearing by May 9. "That was impossible because the RMV's hearings were being booked out in June," he said.
He turned to his phone. "Someone picked up after an hour-and-a-half and they said they know nothing about it," he explained.
He tried getting information in-person at the Registry's office in Lowell. "They said we used to do those hearings here...we don't do it anymore," he said.
This is where some of us might have given up, but a persistent Victor Weisenbloom tried another location, Leominster. He got no help there either. "Then I went back to Lowell, and I spoke to the general manager. He said he didn't know anything about it," said Weisenbloom.
Then came the final letter saying his license was officially suspended. The reason the RMV gave was a medical complaint. By law, a medical complaint can only come from either of two places: a medical professional or law enforcement. Since he hadn't been pulled over, Weisenbloom checked with his doctors. No one had filed a complaint. It was a mystery.
Then, out-of-the-blue, he got a phone call from the RMV. "They said that they're really sorry. It was a 'system issue' that was solved," said Weisenbloom. "It made me very angry."
The RMV sent the I-Team a statement: "It was an error...the RMV corrected the error and reinstated the driver's license."
In a series of recent reports, the I-Team has put the spotlight on problems with the RMV. Attorney Ed Ryan has fought the agency on behalf of clients countless times. "Over my 48-year career as a lawyer, it's gotten demonstrably worse," he said. He wonders how many others were caught up in the same so called "system error" that dogged Weisenbloom. "It could be hundreds of thousands. We don't know," he said.
The RMV didn't answer our question about how widespread the error was. Records the I-Team obtained show over the last year 3,635 Massachusetts drivers had medical-related suspensions and 1,708 got their licenses reinstated, which is almost half.
Since the RMV wiped away any sign of the mistake from Weisenbloom's record, it's impossible to know how many others might have been mistakes. "They need a revamping of their entire system," said Ryan, "...to come into the 21st century and deal with these problems efficiently."
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