Nearly 15 years after a computer error led to Billy Downs’ arrest for allegedly driving with a suspended license, the OOIDA member from Rock Springs, WY, finally received a check from the state of Nevada for the amount he was fined.
Downs told Land Line recently that he was surprised when he opened his mail and saw the check for $480 from Nevada – with no explanation or apology for the delay. While he said he remembers the incident well, Downs admitted that he had given up hopes of ever collecting the money that was owed him. He said he was a little disappointed that the check didn’t include interest. After all, Downs said the state has been collecting interest on his money since 1995.
“I was told ‘the check’s in the mail’ a long time ago so I had pretty much given up on ever getting my money back,” Downs said. “But you can bet that if a driver owed the state of Nevada that kind of money for that many years the state would be demanding interest.”
In December of 1995, Downs said he pulled in to a Department of Transportation inspection site near Elko, NV, while hauling a load of explosives from his home state of Wyoming to a gold mine in Carlin, NV.
“I remember that day well. I remember thinking that I have no worries because I haul explosives for a living, so I am so compliant it’s scary,” he said.
So, Downs said he was surprised when the officer came back and asked him to get out of his truck because he was going to jail for driving with a suspended license for failure to pay a ticket.
More troubling, Downs said that when he told the officer he couldn’t just leave his load of explosives unattended until another certified driver arrived, he was hauled off to jail anyway.
“I told him I could be a serial killer and they couldn’t take me away until someone who was certified arrived, but he didn’t care,” Downs said.
After he arrived at the jail and explained to the captain on duty what he was hauling, Downs said he was immediately returned to his truck.
Besides the fine amount, Downs said he had to find another driver who was certified to take his load. Then, once he was back in Wyoming, Downs said he set out to find out why his license had been suspended.
“That was when the state of Nevada admitted that it was a computer glitch in their system and that my money was on its way back to me,” he said.
He said he did receive a ticket in California for a cracked spring hanger during a DOT inspection a few years prior to the incident in Nevada. Downs said that he took care of the ticket and that California’s computer system showed that he paid the ticket, but Nevada’s computer system didn’t show the ticket as being paid.
Downs said he has no specific plans for the money once he cashes the check.
“I just thought this was one hell of a story that this money made it to me after all this time,” he said.
– By Clarissa Kell-Holland, staff writer