Growing up in Chicago, Maria Ortiz didn't get a driver's license.
She went to high school downtown and, after she graduated, found a job downtown as well.
"It never crossed my mind, I guess. I never needed it," she said. "Public transportation was too convenient."
Then she had a son.
For years, Ortiz shuttled him around on buses or by bumming rides.
But that quickly grew old, and the 32-year-old Ortiz recently decided it was time to get a car.
She paid for driving school, passed the courses, and went to take her road test.
Before she could get behind the wheel, an Illinois Secretary of State employee told her she had to clear up her driving record in Georgia.
Ortiz knew there had been a mistake. Not only had she not been to Georgia, but she did not have a car.
After doing some research, Ortiz discovered that another woman who shared her name and birth date had been ticketed by a state trooper in Ware County, Georgia, on May 16, 2008.
Somehow, the unpaid $337.50 ticket for driving without a license had been attached to her.
Ortiz requested a video of the traffic stop, which Ware County eventually sent her. The woman on the video looked nothing like her, Ortiz said.
Illinois officials told her that to get her driver's license, she needed to obtain a "clearance letter" from the Georgia Department of Driver Services, absolving her of all outstanding citations in that state.
Ortiz persuaded a representative from Ware County to send the state of Georgia a letter saying she was not the woman who had received a ticket in 2008. But the Georgia Department of Driver Services refused to issue the clearance letter.
Ware County eventually dismissed the ticket altogether and sent the state another letter absolving Ortiz of any wrongdoing, but the Department of Driver Services again refused to issue the clearance letter, Ortiz said.
Caught in a thicket of red tape, Ortiz considered having her boyfriend drive her to Georgia in an attempt to clear up the mess.
Instead, she emailed What's Your Problem?
"I am over 30 years old now and cannot drive because of this," Ortiz said. "I have talked to people at my alderman's office, lawyers here in Chicago and other departments. So far, no one has been able to help me."
She said a public defender in Georgia suggested she just pay the $337.50, but Ortiz refused to do that.
"I'm unwilling to pay because I didn't do anything wrong," she said. "I don't want them to think of payment as an admission of guilt."