INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - Millions of Indiana drivers may have been overcharged when they renewed or obtained a license at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
The claim was made in a class action lawsuit filed Thursday morning in Marion County Superior Court.
The suit was filed by Irwin Levin, managing partner of the Indianapolis law firm Cohen and Malad. It alleges that the state's Bureau of Motor Vehicles has collected "millions of dollars in unlawful fees from Indiana residents," dating back to 2007. The suit seeks a return of that money along with interest payments to residents across Indiana.
"There are four million licensed drivers in the state of Indiana," Levin told 24-Hour News 8. "Every one who is under the age of 75 who has purchased a drivers license in Indiana since 2007 has been overcharged by the state."
According to the lawsuit, 2.2 million Indiana drivers' licenses expired in 2012 alone. If each of those drivers was overcharged, the BMV would have collected at least $8 million more than it was allowed to under state law, Levin said.
When asked how he arrived at the findings, Levin smiled and said "good lawyering."
"We'd been looking at a number of fees being charged and discovered this one is not in accordance with the law," he said. "The law provides that the Bureau of Motor Vehicles can charge certain component parts to come up to a total of what they can charge drivers in Indiana for their drivers' licenses. In our complaint, we actually set out charts for different periods of time for what can be charged under law. And, our findings: let's put it this way: any time you paid for a driver's license, you overpaid."
Levin said he was not aware of other overcharges among other state agencies.
The amount overcharged depends on a number of factors, including the length of a driver's license and when they obtained or renewed it, he added.
"The overcharges we have calculated generally run between $4 and $7 per license, per person," Levin said. "That totals an amount we believe is in the tens of millions of dollars."
BMV spokesman Dennis Rosebrough said the agency wasn't aware of the lawsuit until it was filed Thursday, and is reviewing the filing. Late Thursday, he said it was the agency's policy not to comment on active lawsuits.
Levin said he hoped that the class action request would be certified by Judge Thomas Carroll by the end of the year.
If class action status is granted, all plaintiffs who meet the criteria across the state would be included in the lawsuit, unless they seek to exclude themselves.
Though the allegedly overcharged amounts were small, Levin said his filing is intended to hold the agency responsible.
"The key in these cases is that the wrongdoer - in this case, the government of the people - should disgorge the money and have it go back to the individuals who overpaid the money," he said. "There isn't any question in our minds that the State of Indiana charged people more money than they should have been charged."
Click here to read the lawsuit.
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