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DMV scrutiny needed

Bill Greenstein’s lawsuit alleging the state of Oregon wrongly issued a driver’s license to the repeat drunken driver who killed his wife is now settled. What’s not settled is whether Oregon is still issuing licenses without obtaining the driving records of out-of-state applicants, five years after the horrific crash that took Karen Greenstein’s life.

Karen Greenstein was on her way home to Ashland from a late shift as an emergency dispatcher when a man driving the wrong way on Interstate 5 slammed into her car at 3 a.m. March 27, 2014. Richard Webster Scott Jr.’s blood alcohol level measured as much as three times the legal limit after the crash.

In his lawsuit, Bill Greenstein argued the Oregon Driver and Motor Vehicle Services office failed to check Scott’s California driving record. If it had, the suit argued, the DMV would have known Scott had five drunken driving convictions and his license was suspended and revoked.

DMV spokesman David House said he could not comment on the specifics of the lawsuit, but he confirmed that department policy is not to issue a license until the applicant resolves any suspension or revocation in another state.

It’s impossible to say with certainty whether the state knew Scott was ineligible for a license. But the state settle the case for $500,000 — the maximum allowed by law.

If the DMV has not taken steps to improve its system of checking out-of-state driving records in the five years since Karen Greenstein’s tragic death, there can be no excuse.