NJ - DMV still billing girl killed in crash

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

DMV still billing girl killed in crash

Published in the Asbury Park Press 8/26/00 By SHANNON MULLEN STAFF WRITER HOLMDEL -- One or two errant notices, Christine and John Malloy could tolerate. But the township couple, whose 20-year-old daughter was killed in a car accident five years ago, say the state Division of Motor Vehicles' dogged attempts to collect a $140 insurance surcharge from her have gone way too far.

The latest of several notices, this one from a law firm retained by the DMV to go after delinquent drivers, arrived in the mail a few days ago. It stated that a warrant could be issued for Jeanne Malloy's arrest if she failed to pay the debt.

"I can't explain to you what this feels like," Christine Malloy, a 58-year-old nursing director, said yesterday. "It's very, very painful when you get this stuff, and it's not like we haven't tried to resolve the problem."

A DMV spokesman acknowledged the mistake yesterday and promised the notices would cease.

Jeanne Elizabeth Malloy was driving to school on the morning of Feb. 1, 1995, when her car collided with a truck at Route 520 and Crawfords Corner Road. She died instantly. An aspiring fashion designer with brilliant red hair, she was a "bouncy, jolly, lively, wonderful, pain-in-the-neck kid just growing into womanhood," her mother said.

The Malloys received the first notice from the DMV shortly after Jeanne's death; their daughter had incurred the surcharge because of a moving violation some years ago. The Malloys mailed the bill back with a copy of their daughter's death notice, and assumed the matter was settled.

The notices persisted, however. The Malloys kept sending back copies of the death notice; they say they have sent at least a half dozen to the DMV over the past five years.

"I talked to them on the phone and they said, 'Yeah, no problem,' and three months later I got another one," said John Malloy, a 62-year-old retired businessman.

Dana Sullivan, a DMV spokesman, could find only one communication from the Malloys on record: a telephone call in 1997. He did not know what became of the death notices the Malloys insist they sent.

State statute and departmental policy do not hold relatives of a deceased driver responsible for any unpaid fees. A copy of a death notice is normally sufficient to resolve those cases.

Some 800,000 New Jersey drivers are assessed a surcharge for motor vehicle infractions every year, Sullivan said. In the last fiscal year, which ended in June, there were judgments against 132,000 drivers for nonpayment, he said.

Inevitably, notices will arrive after a driver has died, Sullivan said.

The problem is that the state has no automated way to remove deceased drivers from the nonpayment list, except on a case by case basis. It took Sullivan only a few moments yesterday to find Jeanne Malloy's name on a Social Security death list available on the Internet.

But creating a system to cross check everyone on the nonpayment list, while technically feasible, would "cost taxpayers millions of dollars," Sullivan said.

The DMV is looking into the possibility of linking up with a health department database to minimize mistakes like this, he added.

The Malloys were pleased to learn that the notices will stop.

"Good. It's too bad I had to get so aggravated," Christine Malloy said. "They ought to have some system to handle this."

Published on August 26, 2000


-- Doris (reaper1@mindspring.com), August 26, 2000

Moderation questions? read the FAQ