County revokes 14,223 driver licenses for unpaid court fees

Thousands of driver’s licenses were revoked in the Clarksville area after Montgomery County officials notified the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security that those people failed to pay litigation taxes, court costs or fines assessed by Montgomery County General Sessions Court, reports the Leaf-Chronicle.

Patty Arms, chief deputy of the Circuit Court Clerk’s Office, said 14,223 notices were sent out in an effort to collect on fines and fees dating back to 2012.

That’s when a state law was passed that allowed courts to have licenses revoked in criminal cases, even those not related to driving, if people did not pay fines and fees within a year. In 2013, Circuit Court in Montgomery County started using that tool, but technology limitations forced it to handle the cases individually.

A computer system change last year now allows the county’s computers to connect to the state system, making it easier to track and report delinquent cases and get driver’s licenses revoked.

The large batch of notices sent out this week is catching hundreds, if not thousands, of motorists off guard.

Edward Napper got a notice on Monday saying he owed $12,000 after serving 10 years in jail and thinking he now had a clean slate. His wife was with him, trying to figure out something that would make that bill go away or at least be a bit smaller. She was trying to come up with a payment plan that wouldn’t leave them penniless.

…This week, phones at the courthouse began ringing constantly and lines formed at the windows with people wanting to know what to do. Many were angry.

…Bill Ray Cunningham, 68, of Clarksville said he received two notices and had no idea what they were for because he’d never even received a parking ticket in Montgomery County.

“I’m a minister,” he said. “I haven’t got any tickets. I wouldn’t do something wrong.”

Eventually, it was determined that the notice was meant for his son, Billy Cunningham Jr., who plans to take care of the matter this week.