Some South Florida drivers can't renew their driver's license because another state suspended it

States shared driver data since 1960s

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Some drivers are surprised to find out their driver license is suspended because of an old issue in another state.

Rozanne Sonneborn said she had her Florida license for 20 years, but this year she was banned from getting behind the wheel for a week.

"They took the license. They cut the license. They wouldn't let me have a license," said Sonneborn. 

Without warning, Sonneborn couldn't renew her license because the State of North Carolina suspended her driving privileges after she didn't pay a speeding ticket from 25 years ago.

"It was just so surprising. I had the biggest meltdown at the DMV," said Sonneborn. 

Sonneborn vaguely remembers the traffic ticket for driving 45 in a 30 mile per hour zone. She was in college at the time and moved a lot. She's assuming that's how she lost track of the ticket.

Why did Florida and North Carolina lose track of the ticket until now? States have been sharing driver data since the 1960s.

"I've renewed it every single time without fail, and this just popped up" exclaimed Sonneborn. 

Another driver told the Consumer Watchdog she's having the same problem, but none of the federal, state, and county agencies who deal with drivers licenses and data could give many answers.

North Carolina says it's possible an old paper box of records was just recently found and electronically processed.

"It's a 15 mile per hour speeding ticket and now it's going to cost me over $650 to get my Florida driver's license," said Sonneborn.

Sonneborn feels she should have been warned about the costly problem before she got to the DMV.

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles says its technology doesn't allow a warning on the renewal notice, but it may in the future. The agency is modernizing its systems now so that a warning might be possible soon.

This is a valuable lesson for all drivers. Don't assume that old ticket is gone just because you forgot about it. It just may come back to haunt you!

 

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