By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

A question about Michael Graham’s arrest

I am determined not to get caught up in WTKK Radio (96.9 FM) talk-show host Michael Graham‘s loud, high-pitched crusade against the Registry of Motor Vehicles. Graham, as you may have heard, was arrested last week and charged with running a red light and driving after the revocation of his license.

But let me ask a question. Graham says the issue is the Registry’s policy of not notifying drivers when their licenses have been revoked. Everything I’ve seen, though, including Jessica Heslam’s latest in the Boston Herald, suggests that Graham was notified. Graham himself comes off as ambivalent, writing on his blog this past Saturday:

–According to my insurance company, I was contacted by the RMV in October 2008–almost three years after leaving VA–about Virginia threatening to cancel my drivers license in 2008 (huh?) unless I proved I had insurance on my car in 2006 (huh?), and MA was going to suspend my license here, too. (Huh what huh?)

–According to my insurance company, I gave them the VA DMV’s fax number, contact information and my VA drivers license number in October of 2008, and they forwarded my information to Virginia.

–I never heard another word about any of this until I was handcuffed and read my rights yesterday morning.

By Graham’s own account, it sounds like he was notified, took some steps to clear up the matter and then failed to follow up and make sure everything was all right.

Or maybe: Graham also writes, “What you didn’t read in the Herald, however, were the notes from my insurance company showing that they had responded to that letter in October and giving the Virginia DMV the information requested. You also didn’t see the portion of my personal RMV file showing that more than a week AFTER that supposed revocation notice, the RMV gave me a brand-new driver’s license.”

So Graham presented a new driver’s license to the Framingham police, who ran a check on it and found it had been revoked? I guess.

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  1. Jeff

    I no longer live in the Hub, but let me tell you, DMV bureaucracy can be a nightmare. When I moved to Mass. from NC, I wasn’t able to get a license because someone with my same name and birthdate in NJ had committed a felony which didn’t allow him to get a license.It took 2 months to sort it all out. I had to get a letter to NJ with documentation showing that I wasn’t this guy, and then had to receive their documentation. Anyway, I was also pulled over because I had NC plates. Luckily, the officer was kind.When I moved to Oregon, an old lein on my car from the original loan (long paid off)took a year to sort out so that I could finally register my car.Ugh.

  2. NewsHound

    We’re living in a modern age and most of us know or should know that we have to get it straight with the computer.I think Mr. Graham carelessly overlooked making sure that everything was cleaned up and tidy in Virginia.This isn’t like the old days when the Registrar himself will issue a predated license on a Sunday after someone is involved in a fatal accident.

  3. mike_b1

    Two words: Ha ha.

  4. kapekodkid

    Journalism 101: NEVER use your bully pulpit to grind personal axes.

  5. Peter Porcupine

    DK – I worked in the industry for several years, and this kind of thing happens.Good news – the RMV processes excise holds, license renewals, ticket holds, etc., electronically. Bad news – much of it is ONLY electronic. Even if you produce relevant documentation, the RMV cannot accept it in lieu of a transmission. This especially happened with cancellations due to auto insurance – a company might not notify the RMV timely of a payment, and plates would be revoked meaning you ahd to pay for new ones REGARDLESS of who’s error it was.Also, sometimes electronic transmissions go astray, or get dropped due to a power or server glitch. This is called a transmission dump – and all the data in that transmission as lost as if it never happened.To me, it NEVER made sense that the RMV didn’t notify people about license revocations. Remember, if a license is revoked your policy ceases immediately and you are uninsured. And get to pay the downpayment for a new policy as if you never had one.Many war stories on this subject. And really, it’s wrong to assume he didn’t follow up. We agents cannot keep us with this, and we do it for a living.

  6. Dan Kennedy

    PP: Is it not safe to assume he should have kept following up to the point at which he had the answer he was looking for?I understand that you can’t devote all your time to something like this, which is what miserable agencies like the Registry demand. But still.

  7. O-FISH-L

    One thing I wish the media would get away from is the notion that handcuffing a suspect is tantamount to additional scandal. “Failure to cuff the hands that kill” is one of the 10 deadly errors that leads to the death of experienced police officers. The same media that makes a spectacle out of this would be camped outside the deceased officer’s home if he hadn’t cuffed the suspect and something terrible happened.Whether it’s the 89 year-old shoplifter, the 12 year-old graffiti artist or the 40 something talk show host operating after revocation, we should expect that handcuffing is a given. I’m all for liberty, but the courts have clearly ruled that even someone temporarily seized, not just those arrested, may be handcuffed. It shouldn’t make headlines when our brave officers protect themselves and the public by using the appliances that they were issued.

  8. Dan Kennedy

    Fish: Once again, you are disputing facts not at issue. Graham has been very complimentary toward the Framingham police. And “the media” haven’t reported on his arrest — just one reporter for one paper. Unless it’s been on TV and I missed it.

  9. Richard Lodge

    Hi Dan: Pretty sure that was the first to report Michael Graham’s arrest:

  10. Peter Porcupine

    DK – I would submit the issuance of a new license after the VA info request had been responded to would lull even you into a false sense of security that the issue had been resolved, and answers had been provided.Which brings us full circle to the RMV failure to notify those with revoked licenses of the action taken.

  11. Dan Kennedy

    PP: Agreed, if that’s what Graham is really saying. It’s hard to tell.

  12. Amused

    This was the best possible thing that could have happened to Graham’s broadcasting career. He is still irrelevant and uninformed, but now he’s irrelevant and uninformed AND has an outraged story to tell

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