A lawsuit seeking the recovery of more than $3 million in "bogus fees" paid by Ohioans has been filed against the Bureau of Motor Vehicles in the Ohio Court of Claims.
The action, which seeks class-action status to represent more than 2 million people, follows an investigation by The Columbus Dispatch that found BMV deputy registrars had charged and collected a $1.50 fee for laminating driver licenses since mid-2018 while not providing the service.
With the switch to federally compliant driver’s licenses and ID cards, a BMV vendor — not local registrars — has produced and mailed driver licenses and ID cards since July 2.
In the pending transportation budget before the legislature, the $1.50 fee will be retained and renamed the "document authentication fee" to reflect additional duties registrars now perform to handle federally compliant licenses.
BMV spokeswoman Lindsey Bohrer said the agency has not seen the lawsuit. "Ohio drivers are receiving exactly what they paid for: a laminated driver’s license," she said.
However, what she didn't say is that the lamination fee is kept by the agency's deputy registrars, who are independent contractors, and not forwarded to the state.
Former Attorney General Marc Dann, who resigned amid a sexual harassment scandal in 2008, filed the lawsuit on behalf of four Ohioans who paid the lamination fee. The lawsuit contends the action was illegal and seeks the recovery of $1.50, plus interest, for each Ohioan who paid the BMV fee, as well as attorney fees.
Dann said people were upset when he posted information about the lamination fee on his Facebook page.
"Those who paid the fee were outraged," he said in a prepared statement. "They want their money back and they want the state to stop ripping people off."