Phoenix woman’s drivers license put on “hold” by state of Texas for a 23-year-old ticket

She says it’s a mistake.
A Phoenix woman was having trouble getting her married name on her drivers license. The reason for the trouble will surprise you.
Published: Jan. 17, 2023 at 5:33 PM MST|Updated: Jan. 17, 2023 at 6:12 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Reba Petters says she gets goosebumps when she thinks about her October wedding and the man she married. “He looked so handsome in his tux,” Reba told On Your Side as she looked at her wedding photos.

Now that she’s tied the knot, Petters has been eager to put her new married name, Reba Marshall, on everything including her Arizona driver’s license. When she went to the Arizona Motor Vehicles Division to make that name change, she got unexpected news. “She was like ‘Um, I’m sorry. We can’t do it.’ I’m like, ‘I’m sorry too. Why not?’ She says, ‘Because there is a hold on your license from Texas.” Petters said her jaw dropped.

The hold came from Culberson County, Texas for what the state claims was a Failing to Appear violation from July 2000, 23 years ago. Petters said she lived around the Houston area all of her life but that she moved to Arizona in 2015. Shortly after she turned in her Texas driver’s license for an Arizona license with no problem at all. However, apparently there’s a problem now.

Petters said she was told it was for a window tint violation but this newlywed says she’s never received a ticket for window tint from any law enforcement and had to look on a Texas map to figure out where Culberson County was even located. “That’s why I’m so dumbfounded,” she said. “Like, where did this come from?” Petters said a court officer told her that one of her options was to travel to Texas and face the judge, or she could plead guilty and pay the $289 fine. If not, the notice indicated that an arrest warrant could be issued. “He [my husband] said, ‘Oh my God, I married a wanted person,’” Petters said. “And I said, ‘Cut it out! That’s not funny.’”

If this story isn’t crazy enough, Petters said the court officer told her that the fine had already been paid by someone else years ago. Petters said she thinks her license might have been mixed up with another driver and wonders why, if the citation was paid, is this even an issue 23 years later. “If it’s paid, then why is there a failure to appear?” she said. Petters said she was told to talk to the judge but that, for now, the judge wasn’t in her office. For now, she said she has no plans to travel to Texas.

On Your Side got a hold of Tyler Allen, a Phoenix attorney, to follow up on Petters dilemma. He said, “I mean things like this don’t magically go away,” Allen said about unpaid tickets. He said he can’t speak about Texas law or Petter’s specific case but verified that citations from decades ago do pop up from time to time. “They’re going to track you down and if they don’t track you down, they’re going to put a hold on your license until you pay,” he said.

Petters said she can’t believe she’s in this situation. It’s a ticket she said she never received, it’s a county she said she’s never been through and now she’s forced to pay the citation that she was told the potentially real offender has already paid. “It’s causing me a lot of stress,” Petters said. “It really is. I’m a law-abiding citizen, and I want to be treated as such.”

After On Your Side’s involvement and our many emails to Texas, finally there was good news for Petters. The case prosecutor dismissed her citation citing the “age of the ticket.” As a result, Petters immediately went to the Arizona Department of Motor Vehicles and got her new driver’s license. Her new license has her married name just like she wanted. She said she owes it all to On Your Side.