BOSTON (CBS) — A Massachusetts Congressman is asking for changes to a national database after an I-Team report revealed the nightmare experienced by innocent drivers trying to clear up cases of mistaken identity.

The I-Team story documented the ordeal of Bolton, Mass. driver David Barnes, who faced the threat of license revocation for someone else’s traffic violations in New Mexico.

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Barnes had never driven in New Mexico. However, he still spent weeks making phone calls, writing emails, and even take the day off work to meet with a RMV hearings officer in downtown Boston.

In response to the story, Rep. Michael Capuano wrote a letter to the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which oversees the database known as the National Driver Register (NDR).

Read: Rep. Capuano’s Letter

While Capuano said he supports the concept of the NDR—keeping drivers with suspended or revoked licenses from shopping for licenses in other states—he believes the implementation needs improvement.

Citing an issue raised in the I-Team report, Capuano asked NHTSA to require states to enter uniform data in the system to prevent cases of mistaken identity.

“They need to do a much better, more aggressive, more proactive job of trying to make sure innocent people don’t get sucked in inappropriately,” Capuano told the I-Team. “We’re going to have to make some progress. We can’t leave it alone the way it is, not after your story.”

Waltham driver Maria Lopez said “nightmare” doesn’t even begin to describe her experience.

The working mom told the I-Team she almost lost her license twice for someone else’s traffic tickets in Arizona: once in 2004 and again in 2014 when it was time to renew.

Maria Lopez. (WBZ-TV)

Maria Lopez. (WBZ-TV)

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“It was awful. The process was awful, and the second time was worse than the first,” she said. “I’m the primary caretaker for my kids. I’m their ride everywhere. I go to work. My husband has to work and he can’t drive me everywhere. Not having a license would be crippling for me.”

The error occurred because the Arizona driver had a similar name. Lopez said one of the RMV employees even suggested she switch back to her maiden name to keep the mistaken record from continuing to follow her.

During a May 11 interview with WBZ, acting Registrar Erin Devaney said the RMV is developing a process to make sure drivers like Lopez only have to fight the battle once.

“In our new automated system currently under development, we will not associate it with your record in the future to get you to a one-clearance-and-done situation,” Devaney said.

But the Congressman’s goal is to find a way to prevent the problem from happening in the first place.

“We’ve all been stuck in that bureaucratic morass,” Capuano said.

Quincy driver Michael Williams can relate. When he moved to the Boston area in 2005, he discovered he could not get a Massachusetts license because of driving with a suspended license in North Carolina.

“I have never been to North Carolina in my life, and I had continuously held a valid license since high school,” Williams said.

Williams then struggled to obtain the required documentation from a government office in North Carolina that proved the violation did not belong to him. Even after getting one clearance letter, Williams was informed it did not come from the correct agency.

“I’m glad you’re doing the story,” Williams said. “It’s a ridiculously dysfunctional system.”

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Ryan Kath can be reached at You can follow him on Twitter or connect on Facebook.