DMV snafu costs driver more than $1,000

September 28, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
How much are you paying for your car registration? It might be good to check because a mistake at the DMV cost one consumer more than $1,000.

Darrell Adams bought a 1996 GMC Jimmy five years ago. It's not exactly luxurious, but it runs well, handles rough roads, and only cost him $6,900. However, as far as the DMV was concerned, he may as well be driving a brand new Jaguar.

"I never knew something was wrong," Darrell said.

Darrell was paying as much as $450 per year to license the truck, figuring it was the going rate. Then, a friend with the same truck mentioned he was paying just $87 and Darrell went down to the DMV to ask why.

"When I told them it was odd, they told me, 'Why don't you just go ahead and pay it?'" he said.

Darrell persisted until someone checked the computer and found a big mistake. DMV records showed he paid $69,000 for the old truck instead of $6,900, and that's enough to buy a brand new Jaguar XF.

Since the license fee is tied to the price, the DMV was charging 10 times too much all these years.

"I'm just blown away. A 1996 jimmy is valued at $60,000 and nobody caught it," Darrell said.

He also told the DMV that the fees added up to $1,346 over four years, when he should have paid just $134.

"They start talking about statute of limitations, even though it was their fault," Darrell said.

The DMV said it would give back $532, but it was too late to get a refund for payments dating back three years or more, so that's when Darrell called 7 On Your Side.

The Department of Motor Vehicles told us someone at the DMV added one too many zeros when keying in the price of Darrell's truck.

The three-year limit has passed for a full refund. However, the agency helped Darrell file a special application with the state to get all his money back, and this week, the agency said Darrell will be getting the full $1,219 in overpaid fees.

"I'm very grateful; you don't know how grateful I am. If you didn't say anything, I probably wouldn't get anything," he said. "Channel 7 and what they do is invaluable, it really is."


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