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Driver visiting Florida almost loses license after case of mistaken identity

Illinois woman tangles with Florida Department of Highway Safety for 4 months after issue
Posted at 5:51 PM, Feb 21, 2023

BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. — Catherine Edelman set out for a weekend drive from her sister's home in Boynton Beach.  

"I love driving," she said from behind the wheel. "I think it's the ultimate freedom"  

But the Chicago native feared this might be her last drive for a while. 

Her Illinois driver's license expires on Feb. 20.  

"I didn't do anything wrong," she said. 

The Illinois Department of State notified her in September that it could not renew her license.  

The letter read "the National Problem Driver Pointer System is showing that your driving privileges may be revoked, suspended, canceled or refused in the state(s) below."  

Catherine Edelman explains to Contact 5 about the mix-up concerning her driver's license.
Catherine Edelman explains to Contact 5 about the mix-up concerning her driver's license.

As she read on, she learned that the state is Florida. 

So, she called Florida's Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.  

"The person that I spoke with knew the problem and said, 'Look, we can see this isn't you,'" Edelman said. "'It's an incident that happened in August 1986,' with apparently another Catherine Edelman."  

Contact 5's online search found 24 people named "Catherine Edelman" in the U.S., including four in Florida. 

This Catherine Edelman who feared her license was about to expire then sent copies of her Social Security card and birth certificate to create what is called a "Not Me" letter to clear her name.  

She also logged her calls to the State Highway Safety Department, where she said she was often disconnected or told to call back later.  

With the problem unresolved, Catherine Edelman contacted WPTV when there were just four days before her license was set to expire.  

"I didn't sleep last night," Edelman said. "I'm about to be 61 years old. I need my driver's license."  

Edelman is an art dealer, who needs to drive to work. 

So, Contact 5 made calls and sent emails to Florida's Department of  Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to see if we could help.  

WPTV didn't hear back by the end of last week, and Edelman was at her wit's end.  

"I'm even thinking about flying to Tallahassee, but I'm hoping not to have to," Edelman said.  

She didn't have to fly to Tallahassee. 

After WPTV's calls and emails, Department Director of Communications Molly Best confirmed Florida no longer had a stop on Edelman's efforts to renew her Illinois license, writing Contact 5 that "the customer was contacted yesterday, and we were happy to have resolved this issue for her."

Edelman called the Illinois Department of State and said they told her it may take two or three days to process her license renewal. 

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