The first one started the day that Daron graduated from law school. We had just gotten back from a historical vacation with Daron's parents right before the graduation. While we were gone, the postman had delivered a certified letter to our neighbor - who signed for it on our behalf. Which is illegal anyway.
The notice said that I was being sued. At first we laughed and thought how ironic on Daron's graduation day we'd receive such a funny letter. But we realized we needed to take it seriously. This firm really thought I was the person they were looking for. Apparently another Heather Brown with the same birthdate had been involved in a car accident in PA. Her insurance didn’t pay enough so this law firm had taken up the case and found me thinking it was her.
We contacted them immediately to tell them they’d made a mistake but they didn’t believe us. So we sent documentation (marriage license, emails from work, affadavits, etc.) proving that I was in Virginia at the time, we’d never owned that type of vehicle, my name wasn’t even legally Heather Brown anymore, etc. The law firm ignored us. We tried to get an attorney involved. The law firm ignored him. For seven years, Daron occasionally tried to contact them with no reply. The lawsuit still hung over us. I couldn't legally sign the papers on our house because I had a lawsuit hanging over me.
Finally we hired another attorney, Mr. Doyle, (Daron couldn’t do it because of a conflict of interest) and he sent a long nasty letter to the firm. Very quickly they replied that they would be dropping the case (of which nothing had been done for years – they’d just ignored us – didn’t even try to follow up with us!) The crazy thing is that when they replied to Mr. Doyle, they called him Mr. Brown! Mr. Doyle thought this firm is really confused. I agree. But it should be done and over with within a week or so.
The other legal issue has to do with my license. I’ll try to make a long story short but it is a long story. When we left Virginia we did not know that there is a law there that you must notify the DMV of your change of address. They tried to send us letters after we moved regarding the end of our auto insurance policy. When we didn’t answer (we never got the letters) they took away my ability to drive in VA. We didn’t know that. And somehow after the letters were sent to both of us, some glitch in their computer system solved the problem for Daron and his record is clear.Not fair.
So here it is seven years later and I renewed my TX drivers license in March. Two months later I received a notice from the TX Department of Public Safety saying that because of a previous issue in VA, I will lose my TX license in June if I do not take care of the problem. I was floored. So I called the Virginia DMV and found out that all I needed to do was show that our car was still insured in December of 2007. So I got them the information from our insurance company and the Virginia DMV lady told me that my record was clear. Sigh of relief. I wiped my hands of the matter.
Not so! I neglected to get a letter of clearance from Virginia’s DMV and send it to Texas’ DPS. Ooops. So on June 10, 2014, the day my license was supposed to be suspended in TX, I got pulled over at the airport when I picked up my Mom. The officer thought I cut him off – I thought he was being nice and letting me over – then two times I didn’t signal. I didn’t signal but I was busy chatting and hadn't realized it. When he pulled me over, I was totally surprised and had zero idea what I'd done. It must have been a funny sight - nice minivan pulled over by two cop cars with Mommy, small kids, and Grandma inside. Real dangerous criminals... I apologized but he was still not very nice about it. He didn’t say anything about my license being suspended probably because it hadn’t gone through the system yet.
So a couple of weeks later I was checking my driving record to see if I had any points (I’ve had one red light ticket and was involved in an accident – not my fault – last year) and was trying to see if just paying this airport ticket would create problems (i.e. add too many points) or if I should try to contest it. So I pulled up the driving record and saw to my horror that my license was ineligible! What? DPS never contacted me to let me know that they had indeed suspended my license.I continued to drive as I felt that I shouldn't be punished for having taken care of the matter.
So I tried contacting them many times via phone and email to let them know I had actually taken care of the problem. Nobody ever answered the phone or my emails. Then I received a notice in the mail that because I had driven while ineligible (thank you airport policeman), I would have just over a month of being completely suspended from driving in September/October. If I wanted to drive at all, I would need to set up a hearing with a local justice of the peace for an occupational license hearing. That will be on Tuesday, September 2. At this hearing, in which my personal attorney (aka Daron) is representing me, the judge will decide how often I can drive each day and what days. It can only be a maximum of 12 hours a day!
We’ve been trying to get hold of DPS to schedule a hearing to contest the whole thing but they, of course, have not gotten back to us. I don’t know that I’ll be able to get this off my record. I am so embarrassed and frustrated by the whole thing. I understand they have to go by the law, but I truly feel I’ve been treated rather harshly for two honest mistakes (1 – not knowing the VA law that one has to notify them of a change of address, and 2 – forgetting to send TX DPS a letter of clearance). Fortunately, while this has been annoying, I have been able to step outside myself and realize that it’s a complicated crazy story that is somewhat fun to tell people. It will be funnier when it is all over!!!!