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Indiana BMV Overhaul Attempts to Clean Up Overcharging Mess

By: Bridget Clerkin March 31, 2016
The Indiana BMV is set to fix issues that costed citizens millions in overcharges.

This year, it seems, even government agencies are getting into the spring cleaning spirit.

The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) will be discarding hundreds of fees and regulations after recently admitting that it had been overcharging residents on a plethora of transactions.

The changes include:

  • The reduction or elimination of 163 fees.
  • The shrinking of the vehicle registration process—decreasing the number of ways to register a vehicle from 191 to 23.
  • Consolidation of vehicle weight classes from 21 to 8.

These will go into effect among a number of other streamlining measures on January 1, 2017.

The general housecleaning comes after the agency confessed late last year that it overcharged customers on at least 112 different types of services, including a number of different vehicle registration varieties and licensing and titling fees.

That admission was made in connection with a 2013 lawsuit brought against the state organization for allegedly overcharging Hoosier motorists on 147 types of transactions between January 2002 and November 2008—errors worth an estimated $100 million according to the law firm prosecuting the BMV.

The same law firm claimed that the 112 services the agency admitted to overcharging for resulted in a nearly $49 million payday for the Bureau.

Following the BMV’s admission, the allegations against the agency were broadened into a class action lawsuit. As part of the state agency’s settlement, it offered refund checks to any affected citizens.

The numbers were first brought to light in the aftermath of another 2013 suit against the BMV, this one focusing solely on the agency overcharging for driver’s license fees. That suit was quickly settled for nearly $30 million, and the Bureau also allowed for affected residents to apply for an overcharge refund in that case.

An audit filed after the driver’s license lawsuit was settled revealed that the 147 transactions in question were among more than 1,200 fees and taxes the Bureau is responsible for administering. In response, the BMV promised to create an internal auditing team to investigate issues on a continual basis.

The current spate of fee and regulation reductions—which was signed into law by Indiana governor Mike Pence—was also borne of a promise made at that time.

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