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DMV records hidden, bureaucrats avoid tickets

April 19, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Close to a million state bureaucrats avoid paying traffic tickets because their addresses are hidden on Calif. Dept. of Motor Vehicles records. Changing that could generate money for transportation projects. Orange County is currently losing a million dollars a year the way things are now. Countless government workers throughout California are taking advantage of a loophole that lets them get out of paying a parking ticket, a toll violation or a red-light camera fine.

That's because certain positions allow them to keep their DMV information confidential, including their home addresses.

"Toll road companies or anybody that administrates those electronic cameras are unable to get an address to send a ticket to," said state Assemblyman Jeff Miller (R-Corona).

The law originally was meant to keep criminals from going to the homes of police officers and judges, but lawmakers expanded the list over the years to include park rangers and security officers at museums, even city council members.

DMV now has more than 1 million vehicles registered to motorists connected to 1,800 state and local government agencies allowed to shield their addresses.

Miller successfully passed his bill in committee Monday to force DMV to list a work address and prevent the registration of vehicles that have unpaid violations.

"No government worker should be exempt from a fine and none of them should be above the law," said Miller.

Toll and fine evaders cost local and state government much-needed revenues. When someone doesn't pay, transportation projects lose funding.

"That means you either got to raise the toll and make everyone else pay or you are not able to do some new projects," said Mark Watts, executive director of Transportation California.

Miller says in his Orange County district, there are workers who've run the 91 Express Lanes toll road hundreds of times without paying, and their tab is in the tens of thousands of dollars and will likely not get collected.

Some drivers don't like the free pass certain workers are getting.

"If you're running the red light or you're doing something wrong, you should have to pay for it just like everyone else should," said motorist Rebecca Walker.

"That just means they say, 'Hey, I can go through a red light. Hey, I can do this and that, and I'm not going to get busted for it,'" said motorist Kenny Dove.

Critics wonder why it's even necessary to keep addresses confidential since given privacy concerns, it's much tougher these days for the public to access that DMV information.


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