CONCORD — New Hampshire this week became the 34th state to join a system designed to track the license status and violations of problem drivers, a shortcoming brought to light two years ago after the tragic deaths of the Randolph Seven.
The State to State (S2S) Verification Services piggybacks on a system that was launched in 1989 and applies to only commercial driver licenses, which are required for truckers and bus drivers.
On Monday, New Hampshire started using the system for holders of everyday driver licenses. In the future, New Hampshire will quickly know when its drivers violate motor vehicle laws in other states.
New Hampshire was able to do so after recent changes to state law, according to a statement issued by Gov. Chris Sununu. S2S is one of several DMV reforms that Sununu highlighted Wednesday.
“We have more work to do,” Sununu said in a statement, “but citizens can rest assured that we remain committed to making sure meaningful reforms are followed through on and the citizens are served.”
Seven New Hampshire residents, members and supporters of the Jarhead motorcycle club, died June 21, 2019, when Massachusetts trucker Volodymyr Zhukovskyy struck their motorcycles in the White Mountains town of Randolph.
The accident unmasked flaws in the process that states use to track commercial drivers.
Zhukovskyy had a checkered driving record which included a month-old arrest for DUI in Connecticut, but he kept his license because Massachusetts had never logged the notice of suspension sent by Connecticut.
Zhukovskyy’s was one of thousands of notices backlogged in Massachusetts. The disclosure led to high-level resignations and terminations in Massachusetts.
Two months after the crash, New Hampshire DMV officials acknowledged their own backlog existed — more than 13,000 unprocessed out-of-state notifications. As the state cleared the backlog, it suspended seven CDL licenses and 904 New Hampshire driver licenses.
The state also had backlogs with default notices from its court system, and the DMV had stopped sending paper notifications to other states in 2016, according to the review.
The initial phase of S2S allows states to make sure individuals do not have a license or suspended license in more than one state. A second phase, which has not yet gone live, will allow states to exchange information about violations and convictions.
Several states in the region — Maine, Vermont, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey — have not joined S2S.
New Hampshire must still exchange paper notifications with the 16 states that are not part of S2S. Paper notices are still exchanged with New Hampshire and 48 other states when it comes to violations and convictions. New Hampshire and Massachusetts exchange information electronically outside of the 34-state system.
According to Sununu’s update, no backlogs now exist in “critical areas” and processing times are current.
Also, the DMV now receives electronic notification from the New Hampshire court system about convictions and other actions.Last year, the DMV logged 29 commercial license suspensions.
Sununu’s office said electronic monitoring and processing are also expanding in other areas.
The number of local police departments using e-crash and e-ticket has more than doubled, and now 72% of all tickets recorded by DMV are electronic.
“(With e-ticket), citations post to motor vehicle records in near real time enabling violators to pay citations quickly, which results in a timely posting of the conviction along with ensuring timely suspension actions are taken for defaulted and unpaid citations,” DMV spokesman Paul Raymond said in an email.
Also, drivers can pay their tickets and plead not guilty online.
By the end of the month, anyone will be able to go online to retrieve a copy of their motor vehicle record, Raymond said.