Thursday, March 23, 2023

Man Spends $1,000 To Pay $3,000 DMV Fee With 300,000 Pennies

Nick Stafford really, really wanted to make a point about the bureaucracy at the DMV in Lebanon, Virginia. After a months-long quest to get the direct numbers to 10 Virginia DMVs so he could ask a routine question about two new cars he’d purchased, Stafford spent $1000 so he could pay $3,000 in sales tax with 300,000 pennies.

The Herald-Courier reports the ordeal began in September, when Stafford wanted to call the Lebanon DMV to ask which of his homes he should register his son’s new car to. When he was rerouted to a call center instead of a real person, he decided to take insane action. He submitted a FOIA, or Freedom of Information Act, to get a direct line to the DMV. Once he got that, he then filed nine more FOIAs to get the direct numbers Abingdon, Clintwood, Gate City, Jonesville, Marion, Norton, Tazewell, Vansant and Wytheville.

When he was refused, he sued. From the Herald-Courier:

Stafford filed three lawsuits in Russell County General District Court: two against specific employees at the Lebanon DMV and one against the DMV itself.

On Tuesday, a judge dismissed the lawsuits at the request of the state when a representative of the state’s attorney general handed Stafford a list of the requested phone numbers in the courtroom. The court also did not impose penalties on the DMV and its employees, which could have been between $500 and $2,000 per lawsuit if the employees had “willfully and knowingly” violated public records law.

“The phone numbers are irrelevant to me,” Stafford told the Herald-Courier about the judge’s decision. “I don’t need them. I told the judge ‘I think I proved my point here.’”

He then decided to make the workers at the DMV suffer by paying the $3,000 sales tax on his son’s car and another vehicle entirely in pennies. To so, he hired 11 people to help him break up rolls of pennies with a hammer and purchased five wheelbarrows to roll them into the DMV. With the costs of the lawsuits, the penny stunt cost Stafford nearly $1,000. He delivered the 300,000 pennies on Wednesday

The workers at the DMV, who Stafford described as “really nice,” were expected to be counting the coins until 1 am.



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