Marlene Joseph's old license plate is on a Lexus RX in Washington State, and the driver is racking up myriad traffic violations.
A South Florida resident is at her wit's end after receiving multiple traffic fines and toll violations totaling hundreds of dollars from a state she's never even visited.
Marlene Joseph told WSVN 7 News that her problems started when she purchased a used vehicle in 2018. The dealer reportedly gave her license plate JNLC37 but later asked Joseph to return the plate. The same plate has since been affixed to a black Lexus RX in Washington state, where it is racking up an obscene number of traffic violations.
Asked whether she has ever visited Kent, Washington, Joseph simply answered, "I don't know where that is." She describes the entire debacle as a nightmare she can't wake up from and says going to collect the mail is particularly stressful: "Every time I open my mail [...] I feel like something [punched] me in my stomach."
Joseph has received multiple driving violations, which show the black Lexus speeding and sailing through red traffic lights. Obviously distressed by the situation, she just wants to get to the bottom of this once and for all: "I have no clue. How did that person get my old license plate?"
The news outlet contacted the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to investigate and was told that license plate JNLC37 had been marked as lost or stolen on their system. Unfortunately, there's no explanation as to how the plate remained registered in Ms. Joseph's name, which is even more confusing since her Lexus is silver in color.
"I'm very upset," said Joseph, adding that "this has been going on too long, and we're talking about my life here."
Thankfully, it seems the problem may be a thing of the past. Florida state officials reportedly reached out to Joseph and have since removed the plate from her name and address.
While that should stop the fines from coming to her home, one has to wonder how long the reckless Lexus driver will continue to break the law without consequence.
Stealing license plates is often how devious individuals move about undetected and let them get away with multiple violations as we've seen here. However, some criminally enterprising individuals have also used stolen plates to steal vehicles and move them to other locations. In 2021, a syndicate was busted for attempting to steal and smuggle luxury cars in the United Arab Emirates.
With the advent of digital plates and their tracking capabilities, stolen plates may soon be a thing of the past. But, if this has happened to you, perhaps our guide on what to do when your license plate is stolen may be of some help.