License suspensions now total 1,607 after RMV review
Agency failed to notify other states about violations by their drivers in Mass.
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
THE REGISTRY OF MOTOR VEHICLES has not only been failing to review out-of-state violations by Massachusetts drivers, but has often failed to warn other states about infractions by their drivers in the Bay State. State officials said Friday that license suspensions here in Massachusetts stemming from a mishandled notification backlog had nearly doubled in the course of a week.
In addition to the growing total, an ongoing internal review determined that the RMV has not regularly been 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.
House Speaker Robert DeLeo said the RMV news was very troubling. “These issues have serious safety repercussions. As I said last week, the scope and depth of the troubles at the RMV warranted oversight from the Legislature, and these latest revelations further reinforce that notion,” he said. DeLeo said the Transportation Committee will hold an oversight hearing in the coming days.
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.
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