- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 30, 2002

The D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles is trying to find more drivers with overpaid parking tickets before 1999.
"At this point, we're looking to see how far back we can go into the records to effect more reimbursements," DMV Director Sherryl Hobbs Newman said yesterday.
The city collected $17.8 million in overpayments from 1981 to 1997, according to a 1998 report conducted by the D.C. auditor.
The Washington Times reported on Tuesday that the DMV was requiring drivers overbilled from 1981 to 1997 to produce receipts showing the overpayments. For now, the department still will require proof of overpayment.
Mrs. Newman said all files on payments were archived with Affiliated Computer Services Inc., the Dallas-based company that took over processing tickets from Lockheed Martin IMS last summer. She said her office is trying to obtain the records, "but we have a new contract and a new company processing the tickets."
Mrs. Newman said she is not sure whether the DMV will be able to find everyone who is owed, adding that she doesn't believe her office has the manpower to track down motorists who have moved or bought new cars over the past two decades.
The records were available in 1998 when the D.C. auditor first cited the overpayments, said Mrs. Newman, who became DMV director in 1999.
"They could have done something then, but they didn't," she said.
At his weekly news briefing yesterday, D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams said the city will do whatever it can to reimburse drivers. He directed specific questions to Mrs. Newman.
But Charlotte Brookins-Hudson, general counsel for the D.C. Council, said the District is under no obligation to pay back anyone.
"This is a new area for the city. There is no law that says we have to pay the people back," she said, adding that nothing "precludes the District government from doing the right thing."
In November, DMV officials mailed notices to nearly 21,000 drivers who were overbilled since 1999 about their eligibility for reimbursements.
So far, 2,000 out of the 11,500 who responded have been repaid. The average reimbursement is about $41, an agency spokeswoman said.
D.C. Council member Carol Schwartz told The Washington Times on Tuesday that she would hold a hearing next month on the overbilling and the DMV's Destiny computer system, which went online last month.
Mrs. Schwartz, at-large Republican, said she was tired of excuses and of DMV telling her to "wait for Destiny."
She said service problems and complaints had increased since the system was uploaded onto the agency's computers.
Mrs. Newman said although Destiny will enable her agency to more quickly notify drivers of overpayments, the system itself can do nothing to stop the problem.
Mr. Williams said that despite complaints that Destiny is causing longer lines at DMV offices, the program is an improvement.
"What is happening is, for the first time, people are getting caught for having overdue tickets," Mr. Williams said. "You have longer lines because more people are coming in.
"When it fully kicks in, our residents will have more online services with the DMV than any other system in the country," he said.


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