Lawsuit alleges BMV overcharged drivers for license fees

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Did you pay too much at the BMV for your driver's license?

A new lawsuit filed Thursday claims the BMV illegally collected "tens of millions of dollars" since 2007 by over charging drivers.

Juanita and Woody Vandivier have been regulars at the BMV for 70 years.

"I started driving when I was 16. I will be 86," Juanita said proudly.

On Thursday's visit, the couple paid $7 each to renew their drivers licenses for two years. They paid less than half the amount of a typical four-year fee and that seemed like a fair deal for what they received.

"I don't know, I just pay what I have to," Juanita said before both broke out in a chuckle.

But Indianapolis attorney Irwin Levin says the Vandiviers and thousands of drivers statewide are being taken for a ride by the BMV. According to Levin, drivers are paying anywhere from $4-7 more for a drivers license than what is legally allowed by state law.

"Does that concern you at all, if that is the case?" asked Eyewitness News.

"About that much," responded Robert Garnan, pinching his fingers together.

Garnan says, personally, the amount isn't going to make a huge difference in his finances, but he understands the larger implications.

"The total is literally tens of millions of dollars that the BMV has collected from people that it's not legally entitled," explained Levin, who is seeking class action status against the BMV on behalf of Tammy Raab of Marion County.

Levin would not say what prompted Raab's concern, only that she would not be speaking about the matter.

"Ms. Raab is the same as four million other Hoosiers who overpaid. We were conducting an investigation into whether or not the fees collected were legal. We made the determination they were not legal," said Levin, who told Eyewitness News that Raab has no connection to the BMV as an employee.

According to the lawsuit, the BMV has been overcharging since 2007. That is the same year the agency rolled out its new digital license, complete with anti-fraud holograms. The BMV said the new format would save $400,000 a year.

Now, Levin alleges the bureau tacked on fees without the proper legislative process.

According to Levin's figures:

  • A six-year license should cost $15, instead of the $21 fee now in place.
  • A five-year license should not exceed $13.50. The BMV has been charging $19.50.
  • A four-year license should be capped at $14.00, not the $18.00 now collected.

"I'd rather not pay that extra fee unless I absolutely had to," said Garnan.

"I think that most people think our government, government of the people, ought to only charge what they're lawfully allowed to charge," concluded Levin.

BMV spokesman Dennis Rosebrough says he had not seen the complaint and the agency would not comment until officials review the allegations.

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