Durham police: ‘STAYUMBL’ driver believes everyone else trying to run her off road
A Durham woman who has gained notoriety online for erratic driving and the license plate “STAYUMBL” told police that she’s only trying to protect herself from others’ bad driving.
Diana Taije Mems, 50, faces traffic charges in Wake and Durham counties, and because she didn’t show up for court Monday on charges of speeding and reckless driving in Wake County, she also faces a charge of failure to appear.
Durham police say Mems has been on their radar for at least two years, and Investigator Howard Henry, who spent several months reviewing Mems’ driving record, determined she’s been involved in 31 crashes since 2000.
The state Department of Insurance and the Wake County District Attorney’s Office are investigating to determine if she had staged any of those crashes to collect insurance payouts.
Mems has become infamous on social media, where dozens of posts point out the “STAYUMBL” plate and criticize her driving. Some people accuse her of trying to force other drivers to rear-end her vehicle.
One crash report shows she was driving at 5 mph in front of another car when she was hit.
Henry said Tuesday that insurance fraud was his first thought when he began looking into Mems’ history, but he no longer believes that is the case.
“We didn’t find anything that showed she had been trying to get paid for these crashes that she had been in,” he said, noting that she was not found to be at fault in most of the crashes.
Instead, he said, Mems sees herself as a victim. He’s spoken with her several times and even observed her driving.
“That kind of driving would make anyone think they were behind a drunk driver,” he said, noting that she drives as far right in the lane as she can get, almost to the point of driving on the shoulder.
“She didn’t think she was jamming on her brakes to make anyone hit her,” he said. “She said that she drives the speed limit, and what people were doing was coming up behind her trying to force her to break the law and go faster than what the speed limit was.”
Mems said everyone else on the road is out to get her, Henry said.
“She says, when she’s driving, a lot of times, cars would come over the double-yellow line and almost hit her,” he said. “I said, ‘Why does this only happen to you?’ She didn’t have a good answer for that.”
Last month, a school bus driver in Durham posted a video that showed the “STAYUMBL” car pulling in front of the bus and stopping suddenly on a two-lane road to block the bus. A woman got out of the car with a cellphone to record the incident as she pointed at the back of her car.
Henry cited Mems with reckless driving, improper passing and impeding traffic in that incident.
“She could end up hurting somebody, even end up hurting herself,” he said.
WRAL News learned that Mems changed her license plate after receiving the citations.
Mems has had 23 of 26 traffic charges dismissed since 2000, all in Wake County, according to court records. She pleaded guilty to speeding in 2000 and to unsafe movement and having no insurance in 2013, court records show.
She’s also been convicted 28 times since the mid-1980s on charges ranging from passing bad checks and credit card fraud to breaking and entering and larceny, according to state Department of Public Safety records. Many of those charges were under aliases such as Diana Tai Ray, Diana Maria Zorro and Deanna Jean Ray.
After not showing up in Wake County court on Monday on the two pending charges there, Mems is expected to be in traffic court in Durham on Friday to face the charges in the school bus incident.
“She is well aware of where she’s supposed to be,” Henry said of the upcoming court date. “I honestly can’t speak to her whether she’s going to show up or not.”
Mems has said she wants no contact from WRAL News after a reporter knocked on her door last week.