FRANKFORT, Ind. -- CBS4 Problem Solvers spent months delving into a man's lengthy driving record after he claimed an error at the BMV caused his license to be suspended an extra three years.
Every time Robert Marineau needs to go somewhere, he takes his past with him. Marineau hasn't been allowed to legally drive since the 1990's because of a long history of drunk driving and driving while suspended. He went to prison more than once and over the past several years, his wife has always been the one behind the wheel.
"I work second shift and she has to stay up until two o’clock in the morning and come get me," Marineau said.
In 2012, the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles labeled Marineau a habitual traffic violator, or HTV, issuing a ten year suspension. According to a BMV spokesperson, a person under HTV status can petition a court for specialized driving privileges, but when Marineau went to Clinton County court last year, a judge denied his request, citing his driving history and suspension, which ends in 2022.
Since his last conviction was in 2009, Marineau told CBS4 Problem Solvers he didn't think the numbers added up and believed his 10-year suspension should've ended this year. When he contacted the BMV, he said he was told that the suspension was entered late.
"I really changed my lifestyle thanks to (my wife) and changed my life completely around and I’m in a better place. After these 10 years I figured, I’ve served my time," Marineau said.
CBS4 Problem Solvers took Marineau's case to Scott Devries, an attorney who used to work as general counsel at the BMV and who now runs a private practice that partially specializes in driving cases.
"It’s like putting together a puzzle and trying to figure out exactly what happened and why it happened and did it happen the right way," Devries said.
Devries confirmed Marineau's suspicions, saying he does think the BMV entered the suspension three to five years late. CBS4 Problem Solvers also found a letter the BMV sent to Clinton County's court clerk in 2012, saying "new, automated procedures" found people like Marineau who should've been suspended and were not, so they entered his suspension that year.
The BMV sent an unknown number of similar letters, resulting in an ACLU lawsuit. The next year, in 2013, state legislators passed a law that requires the BMV to enter a suspension within two years, but according to a spokesperson that law is not retroactive, so it doesn't apply to Marineau.
Devries and the spokeperson also pointed to two other indefinite suspensions on Marineau's record from previous years. According to Devries, Marineau would need to clear those suspensions up before a judge would be likely to give him his license back. He said this is not the first case he's seen where a confusing, lengthy driving history can cause someone to have a hard time gaining back their driving privileges.
"Once they have this track record of suspensions and their driving record’s a mess, do they have the money to get an attorney to unravel this stuff?" Devries said.
That's the question now facing Marineau, who said he wants to the do the right thing, but the older he and his wife get, the harder life without a license becomes.
"It's in my mind every day, pretty much," Marineau said. "It's been rough."
A BMV spokesperson answered questions for CBS4 Problem Solvers via email, but did not want to provide further comment for this report.
Marineau's case brought up a lot of questions surrounding when someone with a history of driving dangerously should be allowed a second chance. CBS4 Problem Solvers will delve further into that issue in a second report on CBS4 News at 11 p.m. on Thursday, November 7.
If you have a problem you'd like CBS4 Problem Solvers to consider, contact us at 317-677-1544 or ProblemSolvers@cbs4indy.com.