(Updated 3:19 p.m.) A dozen Department of Motor Vehicle employees will be working this weekend to straighten out an issue that’s caused drivers — through no fault of their own — to see their registration suspended.
William Seymour, a spokesman for the DMV, said the problem started when the agency closed in August for a week to upgrade its computer system. During that week none of the insurance suspension notices were sent to motorists.
In order to maintain registration on a vehicle in Connecticut that vehicle must be insured.
Typically, the DMV will send out 8,000 insurance suspension notices per month, but after the upgrade the number of motorists receiving the letter jumped to 11,500. Seymour said about 50 percent of the notices resolve themselves because the new insurance company contacts the DMV to let them know the coverage for an individual was continued through a different company.
A driver has 45 days to prove to the DMV that they have insurance coverage or they sold the vehicle. A driver could also pay a $200 fine to resolve the matter.
The computer upgrade in August prevented the DMV from processing the notices. When the upgrade was complete, the coding on when those notices were sent was more “sensitive” than it was before the upgrade. According to Seymour the number of notices being sent increased after the upgrade.
On Dec. 23, Seymour said they corrected the sensitivity of the computer system to decrease the frequency of when the notices are sent.
He said a dozen employees — five regular and seven additional employees—will try to catch up on processing the notices that are more than 45 days old this weekend.
He said he thinks they will be able to catch up over the weekend and believes the numbers have begun going back down. He was unable to say how many drivers may have had their registrations improperly suspended as a result of the issue.
House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, said her office has fielded several phone calls from residents who have had their registrations suspended.
“We have heard over and over again from our constituents about how their registrations were suspended for no reason, and how long it took to get them reinstated at great loss of time and money to the motorist. We cannot help DMV fix this problem until we know the root cause, how widespread it is and how it can be prevented in the future,’’ Klarides said. “We need to explain this more fully to the public and if that means timely reporting by the agency, so be it.”
Seymour said if anyone had their registration suspended in error, the agency will refund the $200 fine or submit a letter to the Centralized Infractions Bureau to waive an infraction. He said they are unable to do anything about a decision by law enforcement to tow a vehicle if it looks as if the registration is suspended.
Seymour said they have a meeting scheduled with law enforcement next week and this will be one of the issues discussed.
But Klarides wants DMV officials to answer questions about the problems publicly.
She asked the Transportation Committee, which has cognizance over the DMV, to hold hearings on the issue when the regular legislative session reconvenes next month.
Rep. Antonio Guerrera, D-Rocky Hill, who chairs the Transportation Committee, said he will have hearings when the General Assembly reconvenes next month, but is confident these issues will be resolved.
“I feel confident that are going to work this through to get it back to where it should be,” Guerrera said. “They’re working extremely hard to make sure this is done right.”