Alfredo Rodriguez, an accountant from Berwyn, depends daily on his car to commute to and from work in Franklin Park.
So Rodriguez said he felt helpless when he suddenly got a notice from the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office that his driver’s license would be canceled on March 4.
“(The letter said) I was involved in some sort of accident due to a seizure or blackout, so therefore, my license was going to be canceled,” Rodriguez explained.
But there was one problem: Rodriguez said he was not in a car accident, especially not one caused by a medical episode.
“I’m kind of freaking out,” said Rodriguez. “This has got to be some sort of mistake.”
The letter, which Rodriguez received March 2, stated that “this order is hereby based upon an official investigation that you were the driver of a motor vehicle involved in an accident or incident resulting from a seizure, an attack of unconsciousness or blackout, which is good cause to believe that you are not safe to operate a motor vehicle.”
Rodriguez said he visited a local Secretary of State office to clear up the confusion but was told “there was nothing (they) could do.”
Rodriguez said he was ordered to surrender his license and was directed to get a medical exam, which would be forwarded to the Illinois Medical Advisory Board.
“You will then be notified of the decision concerning your driving privileges,” the letter states.
Rodriguez said he was told that process could take three to four weeks.
“It’s just not fair that I’m being accused of something I did not do,” Rodriguez said. “It’s nerve-wracking knowing that I can’t drive. If I do get pulled over, there’s a possibility I might get arrested because my license is cancelled.”
After a week of contacting an attorney, sending a letter and completing necessary medical reports to no avail, Rodriguez reached out to NBC 5 Investigates.
A day after our inquiry, the state rescinded his driver’s license cancellation.
“Further investigation by the Secretary of State’s office revealed that an Authorized Source incorrectly identified Mr. Rodriguez,” said a department spokesperson. “The person who should have been cancelled had a different name and date of birth. The Secretary of State’s office then rescinded the cancellation of Mr. Rodriguez’s driver’s license and cancelled the other individual. We apologize for any inconvenience this caused Mr. Rodriguez.”
“Authorized sources” who submit reports to the Secretary of State are confidential and are defined as a physician, judge, State’s Attorney, police officer, member of the Illinois Medical Review Board, an employee of Secretary of State or another state DMV, the Problem Driver Pointer System and U.S. DOT – Department of Motor Carriers.
A Secretary of State spokesperson said the agency “does verify driver information and returns reports if they do not contain sufficient information for us to determine the driver or the action the authorized source is requesting.” The office did not clarify why that didn’t happen in Rodriguez’s case.
“It could happen to anyone,” Rodriguez said. “I think the Secretary of State should be more careful when they send out these notices because they’re really affecting someone’s life.”
If a driver like Mr. Rodriguez has a cancellation due to a medical issue with the Secretary of State’s office, the office urges them to contact the Medical Review Unit at (217) 782-7246.