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‘Every Day Is Like Taking A Roller Coaster Ride’ - Policy Is ‘Exposing’ CSEA-Represented Motor Vehicle License Examiners Across New York State To ‘Potential Dangers’

Published Sunday, November 1, 2020
by David Galarza & Ove Overmyer/CSEA News
‘Every Day Is Like Taking A Roller Coaster Ride’ - Policy Is ‘Exposing’ CSEA-Represented Motor Vehicle License Examiners Across New York State To ‘Potential Dangers’

(ACROSS NEW YORK STATE) - Owen Romeo never imagined the last test of the day could potentially turn into the last day of his life.

The Motor Vehicle License Examiner (MVLE) employed by the state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) had just returned to the starting point of the road test when the applicant received the news that he had failed.

Romeo, who started with the DMV in January 2020 and is based in Brooklyn, admitted that he notified the applicant of his grade verbally and not by placing the results in an envelope as per new guidelines that were meant as an interim solution to instant notification.

He had done the same with nearly 30 applicants throughout the day without incident.

“He ‘started begging me to pass him because he had lost his job due to the COVID Pandemic and he was starting a new one and needed his license,’” said Romeo.

When Romeo told the applicant that the results were final, that’s when the situation took a turn for the worse.

The applicant left the car cursing, grabbed a bag he had in the rear seat, took a bottle out and threw it at him.

The next few minutes would be filled with terror and a frantic back and forth with the applicant at times running away but then returning with some object to throw at Romeo.

At one point, he came close enough to Romeo to land a blow on his chest.

“I ‘would have let it go,’” said Romeo, a father of three children. “But he ‘kept coming back and making threats.’  ‘Every time he went into his bag, I thought he would come out with a gun.’”

Eventually, a Worker for the driving school the applicant arrived with interceded.

The Driving School Worker wound up wrestling the applicant to the ground and eventually drove him away from the scene.

Police arrived a few minutes later and filed a report.

The applicant was arrested nearly a month later, even though he threatened to return and “smoke” the place.

Notwithstanding the assault, Romeo said: “I ‘felt sorry for him.’  This is ‘COVID frustration.’ ‘People are under a lot pressure.’”

Lorraine Corcoran, a CSEA Buffalo State Employees Local Member employed as a MVLE, said over the past several months heightened emotions have ruled the day for both the Examiner and test takers.

On occasion, the test taker may become angry and even act in a physically or emotionally threatening manner, including name-calling, threats - and even assaults.

To MVLEs, dealing with this behavior is just part of the job.

“The job of a Motor Vehicle License Examiner ‘is inherently dangerous,’” Corcoran said. “The ‘probability of us getting into an altercation or having a bad interaction with a road test client is now at an all-time high.’  ‘It might have something to do with us living in such troubled times.’  ‘I don’t know.’  ‘However, my fight or flight response has turned into a freeze response.’  ‘That contradicts my survival instincts.’  ‘It really makes the job a lot more difficult than it should be.’”

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