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BMV: Computer Glitch To Blame For Late License Suspension

Last updated on Thursday, July 19, 2012

(INDIANAPOLIS) - A Bloomington mother of two is facing a 10-year suspension of her driver’s license, even though her last conviction was May 2004.

"At first I thought maybe it was a joke or that it was a misprint," said Leslee Orndorff of receiving the letter from the state Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

The letter stated she qualified as a Habitual Traffic Violator and her suspension would become effective May 29, 2012, until May 27, 2022.

Years ago, Orndorff had a bad habit of driving without a license.

"I understand I did break the law," said Orndorff. "I blame it on being young and stupid."

Court records show from 2002 to 2004, Orndorff had 17 convictions on her driving record.

But due to a computer glitch, Orndorff was able to get a driver's license with the state Bureau of Motor Vehicles in 2008.

Since then, she has had no infractions and has been working as a personal care attendant to the elderly.

"I transport them to doctor's appointments, clean their houses, so my license is vital for my job," said Orndorff.

Orndorff has filed a lawsuit with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, and is allowed to drive while she appeals.

"We had not identified her as an HTV violator, so she was not flagged in any way to prevent her from getting a license," said Dennis Rosebrough, spokesperson for the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. "There was what best can be described as a computer glitch, in which there was a group of 400 drivers whose HTV status was not currently identified by the computer."

Rosebrough said the state doesn't have the option to forget about suspending habitual traffic offenders.

"That's not a judgment call the BMV can make," said Rosebrough. "The law is very clear. The law says if that's the kind of driver you are, there are penalties."

The ACLU said they're aware of other drivers who are having their licenses suspended years after their last violation.

"We've heard from several people in similar situations," said Ken Falk, legal director with the ACLU. "Our argument is, No. 1, the BMV has waited so long that they've waived their right to proceed and, No. 2, it's fundamentally irrational and unconstitutional."

Falk said additional lawsuits could result depending on how Orndorff's case turns out.

Rosebrough called the issue an "isolated incident" that has now been corrected, but said bad drivers will be punished, per Indiana law.

"These are people who have demonstrated very poor driving habits, and in some cases, just ignored the law," said Rosebrough.

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