A Prince William County woman is suing the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles after she says the agency failed to tell her the amount she needed to pay.
Theresa Manning, of Brentsville, received a letter in the mail from the DMV on April 29, 2020, telling her that the agency was aware that she was no longer insured and that she needed to pay the state’s uninsured motorist fee, according to court documents on file at the Prince William County Judicial Center. That letter didn’t state the amount of the fee, court documents state.
When registering a vehicle, if the owner certifies that the vehicle is uninsured, the owner is required to pay a $500 uninsured motor vehicle fee in addition to normal registration fees, according to Virginia DMV spokeswoman Jessica Cowardin.
State law requires all vehicle owners to have motor vehicle liability insurance or enough money to pay for any losses that may result from an automobile accident. If liability insurance coverage on a vehicle lapses and is not renewed, or is terminated during the registration period, the owner must reinsure the vehicle, or pay the uninsured motor vehicle fee, or temporarily deactivate their license plates, or permanently surrender the license plates, Cowardin continues.
After receiving the letter on April 29, court documents show Manning called DMV headquarters in Richmond to get the amount she needed to pay. However, there was “heavy phone call volume” brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, and Manning didn’t want to hold the line, court documents state.
She went online to try to obtain the fee amount but came up short, court documents state. On May 12, she wrote a letter asking for the fee amount and sent it to the DMV in Richmond, court documents show.
She never got a response. At least, until May 28, when Manning received a notice from the DMV telling her that her registration had been suspended, court documents state.
According to court documents, she appealed the decision and asked for a hearing before DMV Commission Richard Holcomb, which was granted on September 9. During the hearing, DMV officials told her they had never received her May 12 letter.
In the legal filing, Manning alleges the DMV had already made up its mind about her case before the hearing began. Manning claims the DMV told her the proceeding was simply a formality, court documents show.
During an appeal of Manning’s case on November 10, Commissioner Holcomb upheld the decision to suspend Manning’s registration, court documents state. The DMV told her sending a letter to its office and “requesting an invoice was not an option,” and that Manning should have known about the uninsured motorist fee after a previous suspension order was sent to her home in 2016, the legal filing states.
Manning and the DMV declined to answer specific questions about the case. In a brief email, Manning told PLN, “let’s hope the DMV writes better letters in the future and holds better hearings.”
Manning also wants her suspension revoked. All fees associated with this matter are canceled. She wants all future correspondence to DMV customers to list the fees they are supposed to pay, so they don’t need to call or search online for the information, the court filing states.
The lawsuit was filed on December 10. It describes Manning’s vehicle simply as a Dodge.
A hearing date has not yet been set for this case.