5/3/2005Massachusetts Case Highlights Problem of Law Enforcement by Database
National Driver Register information forces innocent man to prove he's not a sex offender, drunk-driver.
With cities increasingly turning to automated enforcement efforts, it has never been more important to have reliable information in police and motor vehicle department databases.
In Massachusetts, the state cancels tens of thousands of driving licenses annually based on unverified data from the National Driver Register, a database maintained by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The NDR records the name, date of birth, sex, and driver license number of anyone reported convicted by a state of a serious traffic-related offense. Those who use the database are expected to contact individual states for the specifics of each offense listed.
Verifying information before acting ''is a task that is too large for us to undertake," according to the state's deputy motor vehicle registrar Erin Deveney.
David Edward Green, producer of the "Car Talk" radio program had his Massachusetts driver's license canceled because he happened to be born on the same day in June 1961 as David Eugene Green, a convicted Florida sex offender and drunk driver. Their middle names are different. One's taller than the other. They don't live in the same state -- and the Florida Green is currently locked up because he's a dangerous predator.
Nonetheless, despite an enviable driving record, producer Green has had to prove his own innocence to get his license back. He is currently unable to drive until he can produce a letter from the state of Florida proving he's not the incarcerated man with a similar name.