DMV customers overcharged

Published 11:23 am Friday, April 8, 2022

If you have recently renewed your vehicle registration be on the lookout for extra added fees.

According to Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Director of Communications Brandy Brubaker close to 3,000 citizens across the Commonwealth were incorrectly taxed by the DMV.

The new change stems from a “Highway Use Fee,”  that went into effect in July 2020 and is a state tax that is intended to tax fuel-efficient and electronic vehicles to “ensure a more fair contribution to the Commonwealth,” according to a statement on the DMV’s website.

According to Brubaker, customers were overcharged anywhere from $5-40 depending on whether the customer renewed their registration for one, two or three years.

“To start, in researching a customer inquiry about the fee in February, DMV discovered that an interpretation of the highway use fee legislation led to our system being programmed in a way that included some lighter-duty trucks in a category with cars that are subject to the highway use fee.” Brubaker said.

Brubaker explained that when the vendor is unable to return a miles per gallon (MPG) rating for a specific vehicle identification number (VIN) and it comes back as unavailable, the Code of Virginia directs DMV to use either: the EPA average for the same model year for trucks with a gross vehicle weight between 6,000 and 10,000 pounds, or the EPA average for the same model year for all cars.

“Due to our 2020 interpretation of the language “between 6,000 and 10,000,” the system was programmed to use the EPA average for trucks when the gross weight was greater than 6,000 (e.g.6,001 to 10,000).” Brubaker said. “The programming at the time did not include vehicles with a gross weight of 6,000 in the truck category. Thus, vehicles with a gross weight of 6,000 were applied to the EPA average for cars.”

Brubaker said that since the February customer inquiry the system coding has been changed and overcharges have been returned to customers.

“We have reviewed our records to determine how many vehicles weighing exactly 6,000 pounds have been affected.” Brubaker said. “ Since July 1, 2020, out of 16 million registration transactions, 3,435 have a 6,000-pound gross weight. We notified the 2,700 vehicle owners directly and returned their highway use fees.”