Refunds should be finished in about 30 days for more than 25,000 truck owners unfairly charged late registration fees, state officials said Thursday.
“We are in the process of doing that,” State Police Superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson said.
Edmonson made his comment during a legislative hearing called after the problem surfaced earlier this month.
Most of the late fees totaled about $3 but some on heavy trucks were $28.16, according to figures to provided by the state Office of Motor Vehicles.
Nearly $110,000 was erroneously collected.
Nick Gautreaux, who is commissioner for OMV, said the problem stemmed from a computer glitch that led to some renewal notices for June not being sent out because mailing addresses could not be verified.
“At the time we took action to protect people’s privacy,” Gautreaux told the joint Senate and House transportation committees.
State Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Joe McPherson, who called the meeting, said while the action was a response to a problem, “it was a bad reaction.”
McPherson and other lawmakers said they started hearing from constituents about being charged late registration fees even though they never got a renewal reminder.
The notices are generally sent about 60 days before the registration expires.
However, McPherson complimented officials for their response to the foul-up, including Edmonson’s comments when the problem surfaced that the state would err on the side of motorists who were unfairly charged.
The issue involves the registration sticker that is attached to the license plates of cars and trucks in Louisiana along with registration cards usually kept in the glove compartment.
Gautreaux said on Thursday that, despite initial reports, the problem only applied to owners of trucks, not cars.
About 17,000 of the vehicles involved rank-and-file trucks favored by many motorists.
The rest involved trailers and heavy trucks.
The total of 25,599 affected vehicles is more than double initial estimates.
State Rep. Karen St. Germain, D-Pierre Part, said while she heard from some constituents, motorists are also responsible for making sure the state has their current address.
Gautreaux, who is a former state senator, said officials at Office of Motor Vehicles offices around the state are making a concerted effort to get up-to-date addresses for car and truck owners.
While most motorists rely on the renewal reminders, they are not required by state law.
McPherson, a Woodworth Democrat who has to leave the Senate at the end of the year because of term limits, said the Louisiana Legislature should consider a bill in 2012 that would require registration renewals to be sent.
No final decision has been made about new software that would improve address verification.
Edmonson, who oversees the Office of Motor Vehicles and other offices, said law enforcement authorities rely on the same source.