It isn’t surprising that the Office of Motor Vehicles is receiving complaints after sending more than a million letters to taxpayers demanding payment for two decades worth of unpaid fines. What is surprising is that they didn’t anticipate any backlash. Despite the excuses given by the department’s representatives, let’s call this what it really is — a pure and simple money grab. But even worse, the tactics being used by the office are at best irresponsible and at worst extortive.
The Advocate has done a good job highlighting the unfairness associated with threatening those who have moved from Louisiana and canceled insurance. But there are associated problems for those who cancel their insurance and choose not to drive for financial reasons or for those who purchase another vehicle and cancel their insurance on an older car before it is sold. Both situations, along with multitudes of other scenarios, trigger large fines and suspended licenses.
There is a process for a car owner to file a Vehicle Statement of Non-Use prior to canceling insurance, but it is not communicated effectively by the OMV or insurance agents prior to an owner canceling a policy. Once the policy is canceled, the owner has no recourse at all to file this statement to avoid large fines. This hurts the poor and uninformed more than anyone else.
If the leadership of the OMV and responsible elected officials were more interested in protecting their citizens than in pursuing a money grab, they would take the time to educate and inform citizens of the proper method of canceling auto insurance and require auto insurance companies to explain to policyholders how and why to do this as well.