RMV Hearing: Witnesses Grilled Over Dangerous Driver Notifications

former registrar Erin Deveney rmv hearing

Former Massachusetts RMV Registrar Erin Deveney testified at a joint Transportation Committee hearing Tuesday. (Karyn Regal/WBZ NewsRadio)

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Brie-Anne Dwyer had just started her new position as an auditor at the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles when she found a problem.

The MassDOT project manager said she discovered a backlog of thousands upon thousands of notifications from other states about potentially dangerous Massachusetts drivers—notifications that weren't being taken care of.

She said she alerted her boss, former Registrar Erin Deveney, and recommended the notifications be given over to the registry's Driver Control Unit.

Three months later, after those notifications were passed off multiple times and lost in a tangle of bureaucracy, one of the drivers mentioned in those notifications is alleged to have struck and killed seven bikers on a New Hampshire highway.

Deveney resigned over the fallout from that crash. She said Tuesday that the families of those bikers deserve to have someone to hold accountable.

On Tuesday, the Joint Committee on Transportation grilled registry officials, including Dwyer, in an attempt to find out who, exactly, was to be held to account.

It was the second attempt at holding a hearing to address the issues at the RMV; the first, last Monday, ended abruptly when several expected Baker administration officials failed to show up.

Keith Constantino, director of the Driver Control Unit first tasked with processing the out-of-state notifications, testified that he didn't realize it was part of his job to process them. When he realized the extent of the problem, he told lawmakers he "elevated" the issue to senior management and to another department, the Merit Rating Board.

"I did escalate this impediment to a project management group," he said.

"In other words, you gave the problem to someone else," State Rep. William Strauss responded.

Merit Rating Board head Thomas Bowes testified next, telling the committee members that his team made the decision to focus on the in-state notifications. He said there was no additional staff allotted to him to process the out-of-state ones, and was told there would be no new hires.

As the three-year backlog continued to grow, Bowes said he could dedicate only two employees to dealing with it.

When committee co-chair State Sen. Joe Boncore asked if every out-of-state notification was processed, though, Bowes said he didn't know—because it's no longer the Merit Board's responsibility.

WBZ NewsRadio's Karyn Regal said lawmakers seemed "amazed" that Bowes didn't know the current status of the backlog.

"What we have here is the case of the missing records," state Sen. Harriette Chandler said.

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WBZ NewsRadio's Karyn Regal (@Karynregal) reports

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