Insufficient Service on Secretary of State Georgia

It is significant that the statute provides that service upon the Secretary of State is sufficient if notice is sent to the nonresident motorist defendant, "if his address is known," and the "defendant's" return receipt and the affidavit of compliance are attached to the complaint and filed. Because service by certified mail was not possible, service upon the Secretary of State under O.C.G.A. 40-12-2 was insufficient. "Only when the notice authorized by statute is actually received can substituted service on an official of the State of venue become the equivalent of personal service. Failure to perfect service requires reversal." (Citation and punctuation omitted.) Brown v. Meyer, 222 Ga. App. 133, 134 (2) (473 S.E.2d 521) (1996). In Bowers v. Winter, 228 Ga. App. 530 (492 S.E.2d 296) (1997), Georgia court held that service was sufficient under O.C.G.A. 40-12-2 even though the return receipt indicated the letter was unclaimed after three attempts at delivery. Id. at 531. The defendant made little or no effort to receive or read his mail, which, unlike this case, was sent to the address where he actually resided. It was also undisputed that the plaintiff had complied strictly with the statute in all respects. The Georgia court held there that the plaintiff should not be made to suffer the consequences of the "defendant's nomadic lifestyle and defendant's admitted neglect in collecting his mail." Id. at 532.