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Driver’s license mix-up ends in arrest of principal

Change of name on identification unknowingly nullified her license

POSTED: July 21, 2008 5:00 a.m.

A top administrator at Gainesville Middle School was arrested last week on a charge of driving while unlicensed. But her husband, a member of the Gainesville City Board of Education, said the arrest was the result of a mix-up between the Department of Driver Services and the Social Security Administration.

Audrey Simmons, principal of Gainesville Middle School’s Humanities Academy, was booked into the Hall County Jail on Friday on a charge of driving while unlicensed.

Simmons was driving a 2000 Cadillac at about 10 a.m. Friday when she was rear-ended by another vehicle on Old Flowery Branch Road near Browns Bridge Road, said Lt. Brian Kelly, commander of the department’s police services division.

David Adams of Gainesville was charged in the accident with following too closely, but Simmons was booked on the driving with a canceled driver’s license charge, Kelly said.

She was released the same day on a $1,352 bond, and had no record of prior arrests, according to a woman who answered the phone at the jail on Monday.

Numerous calls and an e-mail to Simmons were not returned on Monday or Tuesday, but her husband, Kelvin Simmons, said that since Audrey Simmons had two different last names on her Social Security card and her driver’s license, her driver’s license was canceled.

Audrey Simmons had her married name changed on her driver’s license, but not on her Social Security card, when she married him 31 years ago, Kelvin Simmons said.

Since the names on Audrey Simmons’ Social Security card and driver’s license did not match, the Department of Driver’s Services canceled her driver’s license in 2006, Kelvin Simmons said.

Audrey Simmons expected her license to expire in 2009 and did not know that her license had not been valid for two years — she was not notified of its cancelation — until she was rear-ended on Friday, her husband said.

"From what I’ve been told is that they’ve had several incidents like this," Kelvin Simmons said. "But what bothers me, is why did the driver’s department ... not send her a notice?"

Kelvin Simmons said he was considering hiring a lawyer to look into how someone’s license could be canceled without notification.

"She was just as innocent as she can be; somebody hit her from behind, and then (we have to) go through all this kind of stuff, because the (Department of Driver Services) did not send a notice about her license for her. ... That went on for two years, and she’s been driving off her license," Kelvin Simmons said.

The mix-up has been straightened out with both government agencies, Kelvin Simmons said, but the Simmonses still are trying to put the pain it caused behind them.

"It was just not a good day," Kelvin Simmons said.

"We’ll get through it. We’ll pray about it. God will take care of us. I know that. He’ll see us through this."



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