RMV Failed To Warn Other States About Driver Violations In Mass.

People enter and exit the Registry of Motor Vehicles office on Blackstone Street in Boston. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
People enter and exit the Registry of Motor Vehicles office on Blackstone Street in Boston. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

The Registry of Motor Vehicles has not only been failing to review out-of-state driver violations, but has often failed to warn other states about infractions in Massachusetts, officials said Friday as they announced that license suspensions stemming from a mishandled notification backlog had nearly doubled in the course of a week.

Workers finished processing tens of thousands of notices from other states about Massachusetts drivers that sat overlooked in a Quincy storage room or in Concord archives, resulting in suspensions issued to 1,607 drivers — about 760 more than the last status update issued one week ago.

In addition to the growing total, an ongoing internal review determined that the RMV has not been regularly directly notifying other states about non-commercial driver violations and suspensions.

"There is no evidence that the RMV has (at least not for many years) had a consistent practice of sending out mail or electronic notification of violations or suspension actions taken in Massachusetts to other states in 'real time,' " interim Registrar of Motor Vehicles Jamey Tesler and Department of Transportation General Counsel Marie Breen wrote in a Friday report.

The registry will begin mailing notifications to other states whenever a suspension occurs in Massachusetts. Under the current infrastructure, officials said, there is no easy way to send digital alerts to other states for non-commercial drivers.

RMV staff have also begun comparing driving records of all 5.2 million Massachusetts license-holders with the National Driver Registry, a digital database that tracks violations, to find any other incidents that may have been overlooked. No updates were available on the progress of that effort Friday, but Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack last week called it an "unprecedented" project.

Grant Thornton, a national auditing firm, started a full outside review of the RMV's practices, which state officials called for as it became clear that the registry had failed for more than a year to process notifications that should have prompted action. MassDOT staff have also met with the state inspector general's office and the federal Department of Transportation's inspector general.

Former Registrar Erin Deveney resigned last month after officials acknowledged they should have suspended the commercial license of Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, a West Springfield driver who was arrested in Connecticut on OUI charges and later allegedly caused a crash in New Hampshire that killed seven.

Massachusetts officials missed both electronic and written alerts from Connecticut about Zhukovskyy's arrest, and in the course of investigating that incident, they found that RMV workers had not processed paper out-of-state notices since March 2018.

Tens of thousands of the alerts accumulated in mail bins at the registry's Quincy headquarters, and officials also lacked confidence that notifications dating back to 2011 found in boxes in the RMV's Concord archives had all been processed.

All of the backlog has now been resolved, according to Friday's memo, and new procedures are in place to ensure new correspondence is properly addressed as it comes in. The RMV plans to hire a deputy registrar tasked with overseeing safety and to propose legislation that would require more in-depth driving and background checks for those who seek commercial licenses.

As the scandal unfolded, lawmakers on the Joint Committee on Transportation scheduled a July 22 oversight hearing to probe "management, notice and record-keeping issues" at the RMV.



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