Unpaid fine haunts driver 30 years later - | WBTV Charlotte

Unpaid fine haunts driver 30 years later


Imagine losing your driving privileges for something that happened 30 years ago. That's exactly what a Rock Hill man is facing after getting a letter saying he has an unpaid fee from 1985.

Dale Diegnan typically pulls out his yearbook when he wants to reminisce. However, he never expected a blast from the past would come from a letter from the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles.

"It says, a review of your application for a credential indicates that your driving privileges are canceled, suspended or revoked," Diegnan said.

Back in May, Diegnan renewed his license in South Carolina, as he had multiple times before.

But two days later, a letter arrived saying his license would be suspended on July 27th because of an unresolved issue in Mecklenburg County.

So he called the Clerk of Court.

"That's when they told me a fine from 1985 hadn't been paid," Diegnan said.

29 years ago, an 18-year-old Diegnan got a DWI. He says he hired an attorney, and the case was settled out of court. 

"Paid the fines, got my license reinstated and basically went on with my life," Diegnan said.

But after trying unsuccessfully to get answers from the Mecklenburg County Clerk of Court, Diegnan contacted WBTV.

We went down there for ourselves and after some digging, we found a document that states Diegnan never paid a license reinstatement fee, back in 1985.

Diegnan insists he did pay the fee.

"I've had a speeding ticket or two and my license has been ran and checked and nothing has been said, no red flags popped up," Diegnan said.

Now, Diegnan has to pay 100 bucks to clear his name.

"The state just says, hey you didn't pay this, and obviously I don't have a receipt from 30 years ago, so I'm defenseless," Diegnan said.

Diegnan realizes he'll probably have to pay the fee, but before he does, he offers this advice: "Keep your receipts."

And next time his wants to flashback, he'll stick with the annual.

"If it were five, ten years ago, that would be different, but 29 years ago," Diegnan said. 

WBTV spoke an attorney who specializes in DWI's. He says this happens every now and then, and oftentimes it's due to a clerical error. He said there is no statute of limitations for something like this. He added, it will cost Diegnan a lot less to pay the fee, than to fight it.

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