Ohio Woman Gets License Back After 2-Year Battle Over Mistaken Identity In Michigan
Sneakers have been Tiffany Moore's main mode of transportation for the past two years.
Moore has had to walk, ride the bus or ask for a ride every day, even in heavy February snow.
It started in 2011 when she went to renew her driver’s license and got the surprise of her life.
"I was told I wasn't able to do that because there's a block on my driver's license from Michigan, which I found kind of funny because I've never been to Michigan,” explained Moore.
Moore eventually learned that someone with her name and date of birth had been cited in Michigan in 2007 and failed to show up for court.
"It was a loitering charge and a drug possession charge. Now mind you, I've never stepped foot in Michigan in my entire life. I'm a Buckeye,” said Moore.
After the no-show, Michigan entered the name Tiffany Moore and the birth date into the national driver database, which somehow linked it to the Tiffany in Ohio, resulting in the block.
That started a futile two-year attempt for the “Ohio” Tiffany to try to prove she wasn't the “Michigan” Tiffany.
She sent the court copies of her 2007 lease, showing she lived in Ohio, and copies of pay stubs from that time. But nobody was sympathetic.
"I wasn't getting a lot of information from the courts or the BMV in Michigan.”
After months of phone calls and letters, she was told she could pay a $100 fine to make the case go away or travel to Michigan to fight it.
That meant she would have to admit to a crime she didn't commit or risk arrest in Michigan. Neither of which seemed like a good idea.
"They also wanted me to show up in person, and I'm like, ‘I can't drive.’”
Moore’s last option, a long-shot, was petitioning a Franklin County court to order the BMV to allow her to retest.
"What have you done in Michigan to prove here that that was not you?” a court bailiff asked Moore.
She told the bailiff everything; and explained how not having a license has impacted her life.
"My job, I almost got fired because I don't have a way to work. It takes me three buses to get there, two hours,” added Moore.
The bailiff said the magistrate would hear her case, but only if the BMV could be in court, too.
“And the magistrates have the authority to override a block, but he also has to be able to hear from them, too,” explained the court official.
Weeks later, Moore returned to the same courtroom, and faced off against the BMV's attorney and emotionally pleaded her case.
"I'm doing everything in my power to resolve this. I wouldn't be here today, and I wouldn't still be fighting this, you know, if it was me. Or if I just want to pay $100 and get it over with. I want this out of my name. This is not me. I'm 31 years old. I'm an adult. I work. I'm a mother. I don't cause any trouble. You know, I should be able to have this privilege,” Moore said.
Moments later, the magistrate issued his ruling, and Tiffany burst into tears.
"I think you've testified credibly today about your identity and the fact that you're not this person,” said the magistrate.
He issued an order requiring the BMV to allow Tiffany to retest.
But that was only half the battle. There was still that outstanding drug charge connected to her in Michigan.
Consumer 10 put her in touch with the Attorney General's Identity Theft Unit, which is dedicated to helping fix identity problems.
Most cases they handle involve identity theft, so Tiffany's case is unusual.
"In Ms. Moore's case, we were able to contact Michigan and within a matter of days, they had looked into the situation, and they had stated the Tiffany Moore that came to our office was not, in fact, the Tiffany Moore that had a record in the state of Michigan,” explained Associate Attorney General Melissa Szozda.
Finally, Tiffany had cleared her name. That left just one thing for her to do - get the driver's license that has eluded her for two years.
“Yay!, I got my license, laughs I feel like an adult again. I have freedom again!”
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