SOMERSET (CBS13) — Nestled between a work shed and patches of grass sits the rusty shell of Joshua Gee’s first car.
It was that car — a 1985 BMW sedan — that started his passion for restoring older-model BMWs. Ironically, that passion led to his turning the vehicle into a “parts car” to repair other family vehicles back in 2009, when he registered the car non-operational, he said.
“It can’t move, it hasn’t moved, the engine doesn’t even start,” Gee said of the car — now missing seats, engine parts and even all four wheels.
But the Department of Motor Vehicles claimed the gutted car was still being driven — and demanded $749 in fees and penalties, or else Gee could have his wages garnished.
A February 2013 letter from DMV claimed someone saw Gee’s car “either parked or operated on a public highway” — which Gee said, with certainty, was impossible.
Gee said he took several trips to DMV offices and completed affidavits saying no one could have driven the car in years — but the warning notices kept coming in the mail.
“That’s kinda crazy that they say that and demand money from me,” he said, unwilling to pay what he said he doesn’t owe.
Consumer attorney Stuart Talley said if consumers aren’t getting their due process from the DMV appeals process, they can go to small claims court. Talley said that could scare the agency into fixing the problem.
“This is sort of the classic situation where someone is being buried by the bureaucracy of government,” he said. “The burden of proof in a case like this would be on the DMV.”
“I’ve been taking care of this for the past couple months now,” Gee said. “It’s getting out of hand.”
Call Kurtis contacted DMV for answers.
“An accident report filed incorrectly identified the customer’s vehicle,” a spokesperson said. “The Department of Motor Vehicles is reviewing protocol with staff members to ensure these types of matters are handled correctly. DMV apologizes to Mr. Gee for any inconvenience.”
The agency also said Gee appeared to have done everything right in this situation.
Gee’s just glad it’s fixed — hopefully for good.
“The DMV does not have all the power,” he said. “They can be beaten.”