BOSTON, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - If you have a Massachusetts state driver's license, it will soon be checked for violations by the Registry of Motor Vehicles.
Already, 500 have been suspended in the last five days.
It's part of what officials are calling an "unprecedented check" of all driver's licenses to ensure no one with serious out-of-state violations is legally allowed behind the wheel of a car.
The move stems from the deadly trailer crash in New Hampshire and the revelation that the driver of that trailer had been arrested for drunk driving in Connecticut last month and should have had his commercial license revoked before the crash happened.
The RMV's review began shortly after the director of the agency submitted her resignation last week, and what started as a process for commercial driver licenses spiraled into an unsettling discovery and a system in place to check all 5.2 million driver's licenses in the state of Massachusetts.
"The acting registrar provided me with the first preliminary report of the findings of this initial investigation. I’m here today to share those with you," said Mass. Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack.
Pollack is tasked with the difficult duty of revealing two major missteps at the Registry of Motor Vehicles.
First, that Volodymyr Zhukovksyy, 23, of West Springfield should never have been allowed to drive on June 21, the day his truck crashed into a group of motorcyclists in New Hampshire, killing seven of them.
"Ordering an in-depth review of the registry, state to state, data sharing processes," continued Pollack.
Also. that a failure in their automated and manual violation review system could have allowed a similar tragedy to occur elsewhere.
"When that system and the notification system from the other state does not match up perfectly with our automated system, the system kicks out the notification that requires manual review," said Pollack.
When Zhukovskyy's refusal to submit to a chemical test in Connecticut didn't register with Massachusetts' automated system, it got kicked out, but was never manually renewed.
Neither were 300 other CDL violation notices that were left piling up at the RMV, an internal review found.
"They went through the queue of notifications that have accumulated, because no registry employees had been tasked with the job of monitoring that queue. None of the notices, other than the one that concerns Mr. Zhukovskyy, would have required the suspension of a Commercial Drivers License," says Pollack.
Though the automated system has been re-coded and a manual reviewer assigned, Pollack went on to explain that the problems of the RMV extend beyond the records of CDL holders, but to regular drivers who receive a violation out of state as well."What has been discovered in the course of that review is that the paper documents, through a series of changes and who was responsible, are not being processed, and we discovered a group of unprocessed, out-of-state notifications dating back to March of 2018," stated Pollack.
In the last five days, Pollack assures swift action has been taken from the previously untouched reports sent back to the Bay State from around the country.
"Over 600 suspension actions have been taken involving over 500 unique drivers. This involves all of the identified notifications that concerned alcohol related offenses," added Pollack.
Pollack says employees are working around the clock on non-alcohol related offenses and that workers are being assigned to review these notifications as soon as they come in.
Earlier in the day, Gov. Charlie Baker explained to Western Mass News that Massachusetts' inability to manually review violations from out of state was the Bay State's responsibility alone.
"There’s a breakdown in the RMV’s ability to collect information from Connecticut that would’ve denied the license of that driver. Just makes this thing worse. This was a fail on the part of the registry," Gov. Baker tells us.
Later on at a press conference, he reiterated that Connecticut holds no blame in the failure to suspend the license of 23-year-old Volodymyr Zhukovskyy of West Springfield, who is now behind bars in New Hampshire.
"That’s why we want to bring in an outside party to do an audit for us," stated Gov. Baker.
Baker says the independent review will be complete in around sixty days.
Meanwhile, Congressman Richard Neal says this crash should be a warning for transportation officials across the country.
"I think that the Department of Transportation on the federal level should also take note of the fact that people that have been arrested repeatedly for driving while under the influence should not be back behind the wheel of an automobile," says Congressman Neal.
The RMV is undertaking the process to review all 5.2 million Massachusetts drivers licenses.
RMV officials also say they have recoded their automated systems to allow fewer out-of-state violations to be kicked back and designated for manual review.