rmv

Back Behind the Wheel: Suspension Removed From Driver's Record

An NBC10 Boston investigation detailed how the RMV had suspended a Lexington driver's license from an out-of-state speeding ticket he settled in 2015

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James Yang was all smiles when we visited him at his Lexington home.

“Thank you very much for your help,” he said as he greeted us at the front door.

The 64-year-old is thankful because he is back behind the wheel. His driving privilege is no longer suspended.  

In February, an NBC10 Boston investigation detailed how the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) had suspended Yang’s license because of an out-of-state speeding ticket from 2015.

“It feels like freedom,” Yang said.

When we introduced Yang last month, he either had to rely on a ride from a family member, or hike more than a mile into Lexington’s town center to hop on a bus.

It started when Yang got an unwelcome surprise in his mailbox from the RMV: a 60-day driver’s license suspension.

According to the letter, the suspension was related to a speeding ticket he received while traveling through rural Virginia in August 2015.

“I was completely shocked. I thought the case was well over with,” said Yang’s son, Victor, who first contacted me to find out what had triggered the suspension of his dad’s license nearly five years later.

Back in 2015, Yang paid the fine for the civil infraction and pretty much forgot about the ticket. He’s maintained a clean driving record ever since.

But the speeding ticket surprisingly resurfaced when a scandal at the RMV last summer revealed a massive backlog.

Transportation officials acknowledged that the RMV had failed to process thousands of out-of-state driving violations. Instead, employees ignored the documents for years, allowing them to pile up in boxes at an RMV office.

Boxes of unprocessed out-of-state traffic violations at an RMV office.

The state agency has since issued hundreds of suspensions to drivers with old violations in other states, including Yang.

Even though his ticket was just a civil infraction in Virginia, the RMV interpreted it as a more serious negligent driving violation, which triggered an automatic suspension.

At a hearing on Feb. 19, we observed as Yang appealed his suspension before the Board of Appeal.

It didn’t take long for board members to pinpoint the source of confusion.

“This was a civil infraction and should’ve been reflected as such on your record,” Chairwoman Audrey Marinelli told him. “Sir, I think you’ll be happy with the decision we will make.”

By the following week, Yang received good news: Not only did he get his license back, but the suspension was also removed from his record.

“Thank you to Channel 10,” Yang said. “You helped us a lot. Really, really appreciate it.”

James Yang speaks with NBC10 Boston Investigator Ryan Kath outside his Lexington home.

While Yang’s story had a positive outcome, I’ve continued to hear from other drivers with similar problems: traffic violations they thought they settled years ago now coming back to haunt them.

We will keep following the story and find out how the RMV plans to address the broader issue. Feel free to shoot me an email at ryan.kath@nbcuni.com or connect on Twitter or Facebook.

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