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A while ago, something happened that resulted in my paying nearly $500 in traffic violations. That's fine—it happened, I paid, etc.

Six years later, I got a bill for those same violations. This bill is preventing me from renewing my license. I don't have the receipt...

... but, these violations were issued in 2011. The license I have now was issued in 2015, and expired earlier this year. The only way I would have ever been able to get this license in 2015 is if I had paid the violations I recieved in 2011.

Is this enough proof that I paid these things? I would really hate to have to pay that much money again because I didn't keep a receipt for nearly 7 years.

  • The answer depends on which jurisdiction issued your license. – phoog Aug 27 '17 at 18:11
  • @phoog Massachusetts – AmagicalFishy Aug 27 '17 at 22:13
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The fact that your license was renewed is not legal proof of payment. The usual pattern is that a court will notify the DMV/DOL in your state that you failed to appear or respond, and then under some law (e.g. Washington's RCW 46.20.289) your license may be suspended. In Washington, the law says "shall suspend"; in Florida there are multiple rules of the form "shall suspend" and "may suspend". Assuming that your state has mandatory suspension, it would be predicated on the court notifying the license department of the unpaid fines (the license department doesn't directly know that you have or have not paid a fine). While you would reasonably hope that the court would provide timely notice to the DOL of a failure to respond, it is unlikely that there is a law that absolutely compels the court to give notice within a certain time period.

Even if there is an error on the part of the court (failing to give timely notice to licensing), that does not override the requirements of the law, unless there is a specific provision (e.g. "if the court fails to notify DOL of a failure to respond within 3 years, a license may not be suspended"). An error by the court is not proof of payment. Moreover, an error w.r.t. mandatory suspension could be due to the licensing department failing to revoke upon notice.

You're trying to argue a particular fact, that you did pay the fine. You evidence is based on the premise that the court would without fail have notified licensing of the non-response, and that licensing would without fail have suspended your license upon notice. Neither of these premises enjoys much factual support (government agencies know that government agencies can fail to do what they are supposed to). Only proof of payment is proof of payment (and I assume there is no proof, in the form of a credit card payment or cancelled check).

This does not mean that you can't plead to the judge that you did pay, but it's unlikely that the court would take the fact of a renewed license to prove that the fine was paid.

  • So I'm shit out of luck, basically? I withdrew cash from the ATM at the RMV when I paid. Man, what a really, really, really crap deal. The only reason I was able to get this license I have now is because I paid at the counter immediately before doing so (I was unable to do so w/o paying; does this mean that some suspension was issued and removed? Would that be proof that I paid?) – AmagicalFishy Aug 27 '17 at 22:13
  • Go talk to the judge, he may believe you. It is not legal proof, but he may wonder why they took six years to send you a bill, why you were able to get a license two years ago with warrants that were four years old and smell a mistake and take care of it for you. – Jon Aug 28 '17 at 10:22

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