An article by the Clarke County Tax Commissioner, published in the Athens Banner-Herald on May 15th lambasts the breakup of the Georgia Department of Motor Vehicle Safety. Gov. Sonny Perdue signed House Bill 501 last week to dismantle DMVS. The stated purpose of the bill was to end long lines at driver’s license sites.
However, the far-reaching bill abolishes the 4-year-old Georgia Department of Motor Vehicle Services, which was responsible for driver’s license administration, vehicle tags and titles, commercial vehicle enforcement, High-Occupancy Vehicle lanes and a number of other motor vehicle safety issues. All functions except driver’s license administration are to be transferred to other departments. Driver’s license administration will become a new separate state department.
DMVS was becoming, for most purposes, a national model of efficiency. The writer maintains that the problem with long waits in driver’s license lines could have be addressed with less expense and disruption within the existing DMVS structure. An Oct. 1, 2004 memorandum to the governor, from the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget, noted “the Department of Motor Vehicle Safety is not broken or dysfunctional.”
Tom Marlow, division administrator for the Federal Motor Vehicle Carrier Safety Administration, testified that this bill threatens Georgia’s federal funding in several ways. He also stated the DMVS structure was well-designed to maximize federal funding, and the planned bureaucratic reorganization will make it difficult for Georgia to maximize that funding.
The price of dismantling DMVS could be more lives lost on our highways. A summary report from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Federal Highway Administration states, “Every time a state has significantly reorganized this type function (commercial vehicle enforcement), accidents and fatalities have increased in the year following the change. This happened in the year the functions were transferred to DMVS.”
The Shigley Law Firm represents plaintiffs in wrongful death and catastrophic injury cases statewide in Georgia, and in other states subject to the multijurisdictional practice and pro hac vice rules in each state. Ken Shigley was designated as a “SuperLawyer” in Atlanta Magazine and one of the “Legal Elite” in Georgia Trend Magazine. He is a Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy, Chair of the Southeastern Motor Carrier Liability Institute and former chair of the Georgia Insurance Law Institute. He particularly focuses on cases arising from truck wrecks and accidents (tractor trailers truck wrecks, semi truck wrecks,18 wheeler truck wrecks, big rig truck wrecks, log truck wrecks, dump truck wrecks).