Surprise! Man loses license over 33-year-old ticket

PORTLAND, Ore. -- A Portland man is trying to figure out how he ended up with an invalid license over a ticket from 1981.

Kevin Berry said he was pulled over in Milwaukie at the beginning of August for a possible speeding ticket. He said he did not get a ticket for speeding, but was surprised to hear the officer say his license was not valid as of July 17.

He said he checked with the Department of Motor Vehicles and was told that his license had been suspended after a ticket in 1981.

"I think it's crazy," said Berry, who said he has been renewing his license faithfully and legally for decades.

Berry contacted KATU for help finding answers.

"I don't remember anything like that. If my license had been suspended, I definitely would have taken care of that," said Berry. "Sometimes I can be a procrastinator, but I've never procrastinated for 33 years!"

The Problem Solvers contacted the DMV.

A DMV spokesperson researched the issue and said there was an error back in 1981 and a record was created under the name "Berdy," not "Berry." The "Berdy" record showed the 1981 ticket and a suspension.

Spokesperson David House said systems and procedures have improved over the years, so they are better able to discover errors and duplicate records when it is time for license renewal.

In this case, he said, the DMV merged the two records, and because one record had no valid driving privileges, Berry's current, valid license was declared not valid in July, 33 years after the Berdy suspension.

Berry said received no warning letter about the record merge and invalid license, and when he asked the DMV employee about the problem, she told him that he did not receive one because the DMV had already sent one to Kevin Berdy in 1981.

Berry said he remembers no warning letter from 1981.

House said the DMV did send a warning letter to Berry at his registered address in July.

Berry said he moved not long ago from that address, but no letter from the DMV was forwarded to him.

The DMV said the statute of limitations is no longer valid, so Berry does not have to pay for the ticket or suspension, but he does have to pay $75 to get his license reinstated.

Berry does not think he should have to pay over a typo from 1981.

"I started to pay it that day," said Berry. "I thought, 'No, this isn't fair. This isn't right!'"

"It's the principle," he added.