BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The Department of Public Safety sent out 1.2 million letters informing people that sometime along the way their car insurance had lapsed in Louisiana and they now owe a fine. The fine can range anywhere from $125 to $525, and if not paid in 60 days, the letter says a person's tax refund "will be seized."
Local business owner Jeremy Seaton received one of the letters and had to provide documentation to prove that his insurance never lapsed.
"I spent four hours of my day trying to fix it," he said. "That men can sit down and make a law like that and not think it through, to tell somebody that they are at fault for something that they obviously were not at fault for it, just speaks of the deeper problems within us."
Seaton was able to prove that his insurance never lapsed.
Some of the letters reference possible insurance lapses more than 20 years old. In some of those cases, documents may no longer exist.
Colonel Mike Edmonson, who oversees the Office of Motor Vehicles, said that while some of the letters may be in error, a majority of them are correct. Edmonson said his agency is just following the law and acting on a request from the Treasury and Department of Revenue to collect old debts.
"I understand their aggravation. I understand that they are disappointed or mad," he said. "We're going to do everything we can to listen to you. We're going to stay open later, answer those phone calls, were going to work with you and we're going to try to document those cases where you say, 'you know what, it's been 15 years, 20 years, 25 years and I don't have that information.'"
Edmonson said his people will have to prove that those with letters owe them in order for them to collect.
Edmonson urges anyone who has received a letter to call the number at the bottom of it and explain their case.