Massachusetts RMV suspends 869 more drivers two months after deadly N.H. motorcycle crash
In this July 6, 2019, file photo, motorcyclists participate in a ride in Randolph, N.H., to remember seven bikers killed there in a collision with a pickup truck in June. State transportation officials in Massachusetts are expected to be questioned during a legislative oversight hearing on Monday, July 22, 2019, in Boston, about the Registry of Motor Vehicles' failure to suspend the commercial license of the truck driver charged in the crash that killed the seven motorcyclists in New Hampshire. (Photo: Paul Hayes, AP)
BOSTON — The magnitude of the mistakes at the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles keeps getting worse two months after a deadly motorcycle crash in New Hampshire exposed severe dysfunction.
The embattled agency on Wednesday announced in a memo that it has suspended an additional 869 registered Massachusetts drivers for serious driving infractions in other states that were never processed until now, bringing the total to more than 2,400.
The latest batch adds to the 1,607 suspensions the RMV announced last month after identifying 2,039 out-of-state notifications of violations that had previously gone unprocessed. Some drivers received multiple suspensions.
The new suspensions come as a result of an unprecedented massive undertaking to compare the more than 5.2 million Massachusetts driving records against a national database called the National Driver Register to find cases where action wasn’t taken.
Even more suspensions are likely to come. The Massachusetts RMV says it is “actively reviewing” 4,724 additional cases of open convictions and suspensions concerning serious violations to see whether more driver’s licenses should be suspended.
“Given the sheer volume of analyzing 5,224,126 records, it is not unexpected that a subset would provide a match requiring suspension action,” Jamey Tesler, acting registrar of motor vehicles, said in the memo.
The RMV’s lapse in processing out-of-state suspensions was discovered in the aftermath of the June 21 crash in which Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, a 23-year-old truck driver, crossed a double-yellow line in rural Randolph, New Hampshire and collided with a group of bikers, killing seven and injuring two. The bikers were former Marines and spouses from the group Jarheads MC.
FILE – In this June 24, 2019 file photo, Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, 23, of West Springfield, and the driver of a pickup truck in a fiery collision on a rural New Hampshire highway that killed seven motorcyclists, stands with his attorney Donald Frank during his arraignment in Springfield District Court in Springfield, Mass. In a preliminary report released Wednesday, July 24, 2019, the National Transportation Safety Board summarized the details behind the June 21 crash in which a pickup truck driven by Zhukovskyy crashed into the bikers in Randolph, N.H. The report affirms early reports that Zhukovskyy crossed the center of the road and collided with the bikers. (Don Treeger/The Republican via AP, Pool, File) (Photo: Don Treeger, AP)
Zhukovskyy, of West Springfield, Massachusetts, had received a drunken-driving charge May 11 in Connecticut, which should have triggered the automatic termination of his commercial drivers license. It was the most recent of multiple drug- and traffic-related arrests in multiple states for Zhukovskyy prior to the crash.
Zhukovskyy was high on drugs and claims he was reaching for a drink just before the collision, according to a federal inspection report released this month. He has pleaded not guilty to seven counts of vehicular homicide.
The memo marked the fifth formal update the RMV has provided on their efforts to improve data-sharing with other states.
“We have been working hard to ensure that all drivers – commercial and regular – meet state and federal requirements for eligibility to drive and that, if a driver commits a serious offense that affects eligibility for licensure, the Registry expeditiously revokes their driving privileges,” Tesler wrote.
An outside auditing firm, Grant Thornton, released a preliminary report Friday that says their work “confirms serious concerns as to the operation of certain aspects of the RMV, including the MRB.” The MRV refers to the state’s Merit Rating Board, which is tasked with tracking out-of-state driving violations.
Former Registrar Erin Deveney, who resigned following the crash, testified to Massachusetts lawmakers last month that the RMV had never processed notices of law-breaking Massachusetts drivers sent by other states until 2016, a year after she took over as registrar.
In March, three months before the motorcycle crash, a state auditor had flagged nearly 13,000 notifications of out-of-state driving infractions that hadn’t been processed. But the auditor testified that she was told by a top RMV official that “nobody” was in charge of entering the backlog.
Tesler, in his memo, said 2,500 of these out-of-state paper notifications were duplicates and that the backblog was “checked, addressed and cleared out” in the days following the New Hampshire crash.
Since the crash, the Massachusetts RMV also discovered that it had not been notifying other states when their drivers received violations in Massachusetts.
Tesler said the Massachusetts RMV is now mailing notifications on a “go-forward basis” to other states. He aid the RMV will also be sending notices of 45,000 convictions and suspensions to other states that have been made since March 2018.
Reach Joey Garrison on Twitter @joeygarrison.
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