(WSVN) – A South Florida woman was hit with a traffic violation in a state she had never been to. As the fines piled up, her frustration grew.
Karen Hensel reports on 7 Investigate tonight.
Marlene Joseph lives in Deerfield Beach and works in a nursing home most of the time.
Marlene Joseph/The Plate Question: “I go to work, I come home, I go to work, and that’s all I do. I’m not going anywhere.”
So imagine her surprise when she started receiving driving violations and fines from states more than 3,000 miles away.
Karen Hensel: “Have you been to Kent, Washington?”
Marlene Joseph “I don’t know where that is.”
Kent, Washington is actually on the opposite corner of the country from South Florida. But over the past year, Marlene has been violated by the city of Kent and the state of Washington. That includes hundreds of dollars in fines for running red lights, speeding and toll violations.
Marlene Joseph: “The whole thing was like a nightmare and I couldn’t wake up from it.”
The breaches and court notices came so often, she said the daily routine of going to the mailbox was stressful.
Marlene Joseph: “Every time I open the email, I feel like something punches me in the stomach and I’m like, ‘Oh my God, here we go again.'”
It all started when Marlene bought a used car in 2018.
She said the dealer gave her the number plate JNLC37. But later, the dealer asked her to return that plate and gave her a new one.
Here’s her returned license plate, JNLC37, which showed up on traffic cameras in Washington state. While the car in the photo is a black Lexus, violations show that the sticker is still associated with Marlene’s name and address and the silver Lexus.
Marlene Joseph: “I don’t know. How did that guy get my old license plate?”
That’s what we want to know.
So we turned to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles for an explanation.
They said records showed the tags were flagged as lost or stolen. How the license plate resurfaced on another vehicle and went on to be registered in Marlene’s name remains a mystery.
Marlene Joseph: “So I cry every day, and I’m depressed. I can’t, you know, it’s been going on for too long, we’re talking about my life here. I tell my kids, ‘I know, you know , I’m dead or better off in jail, and maybe the whole thing will end.’”
Hope it ends.
After we started asking questions, Florida officials contacted Marlene directly. As of last week, her license plate was finally separated from her name and address in Florida’s system, meaning she should no longer receive any violation tolls.
Karen Hensel, 7News.
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