TEWKSBURY (CBS) – The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles is trying to correct some big problems after failing to suspend the license of a truck driver involved in a fatal crash in New Hampshire.
The I-Team talked to a Tewksbury man who says he was stunned to be told his license was suspended for a violation he got nearly 40 years ago.
“I didn’t get a warning, I didn’t get any kind of a letter just to say my license is suspended,” said Norman LaLonde.
For 38 years, Norman LaLonde had a Massachusetts driver’s license. But a few weeks ago he got a notice from the Registry of Motor Vehicles.
“The first thing it says ‘suspension of driver’s license right to operate,’” LaLonde said. “Then it says ‘why did you receive this correspondence?’ and I started reading that and I see the violation date was 1981 in Maine.”
LaLonde was just 18 years old in 1981, and was driving a beat up VW van when he got stopped by police for operating under the influence. He says he paid all of his fines but didn’t remember having to take an alcohol education course. And for nearly 40 years, no one else did either.
“To hit somebody like this, it’s like wow what a punch,” LaLonde said.
He is one of thousands of Massachusetts drivers who recently had their licenses suspended for out of state violations dating back decades.
The RMV began the massive suspensions in June after seven people were killed in a New Hampshire crash involving a commercial driver whose license should have been suspended for a drunk driving arrest in Connecticut weeks earlier.
The Registry was widely criticized after admitting it was notified about the arrest through a national database but failed to pull the truck driver’s license.
In Norman LaLonde’s case, the 57-year-old said he hasn’t even had a traffic ticket in more than 20 years. The RMV says it has a lifetime look-back on all drunk driving suspensions.
“I’ll be relieved when it’s straightened out, but I don’t think it had to happen like this,” LaLonde said.
To get his license back, he has to take a three day course in Maine and pay a reinstatement fee.
“My wife has MS she can’t really drive,” LaLonde explained. “It’s very infuriating I have three kids – I try to make a good example and it’s just, it’s a kick.”
The Registry says Norman does not qualify for a hardship license and his only recourse is to appeal. In the meantime, he is scheduled to take the driver’s ed classes and had five new points put on his license which means higher insurance rates.