Editor, News Watchman,
My wife recently received a letter from the BMV stating that her license had been suspended, with no other information except a case number from the Pike County Court. After calling the BMV we found out that the court had suspended her license due to “unpaid court costs” dating from 2011. Instead of sending a letter of notice first, the court decided that the best way to proceed on a nine-year-old debt collection was to just have the BMV suspend her license and then let us figure everything out for ourselves. She drove around for 10-plus days with a suspended license before receiving the notice in the mail; I hate to think of what could have happened if she had been pulled over within that time, God knows the court certainly didn’t consider it. Whenever she asked the front desk why they didn’t send out any notice, the person responded that they don’t have updated addresses and she would have to walk all the way to the BMV to get them, which is a brisk walk that takes all of 15 seconds. A quick search on Facebook shows that this has happened to a lot of people recently, one person’s court costs dated back to 1997. Several people were absolutely sure that they had paid it, but didn’t have their receipt. After all, who keeps records of paid receipts for 20 years? One has to wonder how accurate their records of receipt of payment are if they’re just now remembering court costs from when Bill Clinton was still the President. Apparently the Court is updating their system and going through old files, but totally not to drum up money, just to grossly abuse their power to suspend licenses with complete disregard for the people whose lives they are affecting. The inability to drive to work or take care of family obligations until you pay the court an uncontestable fee that can amount to hundreds of dollars can be devastating. The fee we had to pay, for example, was 75 percent of our weekly paycheck. Many states, including Ohio, have passed or are trying to pass legislation removing the ability of courts to suspend a license for non-traffic related offenses. It doesn’t make sense to take away a person’s license and their ability to work in order to collect a trivial court fee (that apparently is so unimportant that it takes 20-plus years to remember). We live in the fourth poorest county in the state, and we don’t need this nonsense, as people are struggling enough as it is. The Court should do the right thing and wipe the slate clean with the introduction of their new system, and stop suspending licenses for non-traffic related offenses altogether. What good is it doing for our community? Does the money collected outweigh the damage?