After a criminal carjacked a Vietnam veteran, the last thing the 73-year-old victim expected was a bill. That’s exactly what he got, however, as he was told he needed to pay $2,000 — and the reason he allegedly owed thousands is downright outrageous.
Doug Nelson, a 73-year-old Vietnam veteran, became the victim of a carjacking when he arrived home just after midnight following a late shift at the U.S. Postal Service. Shortly after getting out of his car, armed carjackers put a gun to the elderly man’s head and demanded the keys to his car.
“As I was exiting the vehicle, this guy came up with the pistol and said, ‘Give me the car. You know, what’s happening. Give me a car,'” Doug recalled. Valuing his life over his vehicle, the Vietnam veteran and grandfather of 11 handed over the car without hesitation, hoping that was all he would lose, even though it was the only vehicle he and his wife owned and they relied heavily upon it, WJLA reported.
Surprisingly, Doug Nelson’s car was eventually recovered, and he and his wife Nancy thought their troubles were over, but little did they know, their problems had only just begun. Unfortunately, they’d soon face a new dilemma as they received notice after notice about fines from traffic violations the carjackers committed while in possession of the Nelsons’ stolen car.
“Over $2,000 worth of fines. Yes. Over $2,000 worth of fines,” Nancy recalled as she sat in her living room, looking over a folder of paperwork and a pile of speeding tickets. Apparently, the criminals went on a dangerous joyride, often exceeding 70 mph in 30 mph zones, triggering speed cameras half a dozen times. Of course, the Nelsons had no idea until they started receiving tickets.
“It was a notice of infraction and I looked at it and I said, ‘Oh, this is the time when they stole the car,'” Nancy explained. One would think that a simple explanation regarding the chain of events would solve the problem, but that wasn’t the case. Instead, after already being accosted by a criminal, the elderly man would sadly be victimized again — this time by Washington, DC, officials, who demanded that he pay the $2,000 in fines that the carjackers had racked up in his stolen car, according to The Blaze.
The couple said they notified the District of Columbia that the infractions were made while the car had been stolen, thinking officials would dismiss the charges, but according to the Nelsons, that’s not what happened at all. Instead, “It came back saying, ‘You owe,'” Nancy recalled. So, she sent the police report, proving the car had been stolen more than an hour before a speed camera snapped the first ticket, but it didn’t change anything. “I sent it back and it got rejected again,” Nancy said.
In an attempt to clear up the issue, the Nelsons personally contacted numerous government offices and even scheduled a face-to-face meeting with the hearings officer, but their efforts seemed to be in vain. After making arrangements to get down to DC and waiting her turn to meet with the hearings officer, Nancy said the guy did “not even look at the information.” Instead, he told her, “Your tag number is not on the report.”
Nancy went back to the police station, but it was no help. “He [the police officer] said, ‘I can’t put the tag number on your report, but it’s in the system,'” Nancy recalled. “This is not helping me at all. I’m in tears about all of this stuff because we owe over $2,000 for tickets that are not even our fault,” she said, adding, “I called my council member. I called the Mayor’s office, and they told me ‘hold on’ and I never heard back from them either.”
According to the Nelsons, all they got was the bureaucratic runaround, and in the meantime, things only got worse. Because of the outstanding tickets, the Nelsons couldn’t get new tags. Therefore, they were not legally permitted to drive their vehicle, which they depended on to get to and from work and to run their daily errands. Shockingly, this allegedly lasted six months, and the fines only grew.
The Nelsons had one last option, but it was a pricey one. They could make their case to a special appeals board, but they would have to pay all fines upfront in order to access the board. Unfortunately, the six months that passed resulted in the fines having at least doubled to more than $5,000, according to WJLA.
After hearing the Nelsons’ story, the 7News I-Team tried for nearly two weeks to get several DC officials and agencies “to agree to an interview to discuss how this happened to the Nelsons and explain why, in the face of facts, nobody would help them.” Although the DC Department of Motor Vehicles reportedly did not respond to the station’s requests, they eventually released a statement saying the tickets had been dismissed.
“The initial police incident submitted as part of that process was incomplete and failed to establish that the vehicle was stolen when the citations were issued,” the DC DMV’s statement alleged. “Subsequently, DC DMV received a more complete incident report with additional details related to the carjacking incident involving Mr. Nelson’s vehicle. As a result, DC DMV Adjudication Services has dismissed the six tickets, as well as the related fines and penalties.”
The DMV also claimed they “had been communicating with Mr. Nelson since he began the adjudication process related to the six citations issued” six months prior. However, according to the Nelsons, they were never notified by DC officials that the tickets and fines had been dismissed.
The Nelsons also disputed the DMV’s claim that the agency had been communicating with them during all that time. Instead, they said the communication over the previous six months had been a series of one-way interactions, where they presented the facts and the District’s only response was to tell them to pay all of the tickets and then it would decide whether the payment was justified.
While it’s great that the ordeal can finally be put to rest, it’s an example of a very troubling situation. As Doug and Nancy’s son-in-law Richard Bennett pointed out, “It shouldn’t have to be this difficult.” Indeed, one would think any human being could look at this case and realize it needs to be resolved. Instead, an elderly, law-abiding couple was harassed for six months. After already having been victimized by criminals, the last thing they needed was to be further violated by government officials. We must demand better.