If you think that just because you have moved away from New York those unpaid parking tickets are ancient history, think again.

A 79-year-old Florida man got a rude awakening recently when he attempted to renew his driver’s license and discovered New York had entered his name into the National Driver Register for an unpaid parking ticket he received 40 years ago.

Yes, 40 years ago. That would be 1971.

Luis Velazquez, who has lived in North Fort Myers for the past 13 years, didn’t even remember the parking ticker until he tried to renew his Florida driver’s license. His renewal was denied because New York was still looking for its unpaid parking fine. Needless to say, Velazquez will need to pay his debt to new York before he can renew his Florida license.

So, what is the National Driver Register? It’s intended as a data base of information about drivers who have had their licenses suspended or revoked due to serious infractions such a drunk driving or too many speeding tickets. Managed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration it is a way to prevent drivers who have their license suspended in one state from driving over to the nearest state and getting a new one. The information contained in the National Drover Register is supplied by each state’s bureau of motor vehicles and nothing stops them from uploading whatever information they want, and flagging drivers for unpaid parking tickets as well as drunk driving infractions.

So what can you do about it? Be a good defensive driver New York. If you get a citation, whether it’s for speeding or double parking, pay it. Don’t just assume that if enough time goes by everyone will forget all about it. This is the Digital Age. They can store millions of records on a disc the size of an old .45 rpm, I think they’ll have room to fit your unpaid parking tickets.

In the meantime, if you think you might have left some unpaid tickets in a former state, don’t wait for them to catch up with you. It will save you a lot of hassle if you contact the BMV in your former state and check the status of your license–even if you don’t have that license any longer.

Remember, New York defensive driving means watching out for anything which can impede your ability to get anywhere by car. Not being able to renew your license is just one of those hazards.