The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, which issued a driver's license in July to a convicted murderer and drunk driver whose license was revoked four years ago, has no record of being told about the revocation until last week, a department spokeswoman said yesterday.

L. Paige Tucker said the department was notified "sometime last week" that David Earl Fleming, who was convicted of second-degree murder in a 1983 drunk-driving accident that killed a Fairfax mother of 11, had been barred from ever driving by a federal judge.

Fleming, 60, of Fairfax County's Mount Vernon area, was driving 80 miles an hour on the wrong side of the George Washington Parkway in 1983 when he slammed head-on into a car driven by 55-year-old Margaret Haley, killing her immediately.

On Nov. 9 Fleming was involved in a minor accident on the parkway and was charged with driving while intoxicated. When Fleming presented his new license to the U.S. Park Police, a computer check of his driving record failed to turn up his past convictions and he was released.

A Park Police records officer later recognized Fleming's name on an arrest report, and Fleming was charged with driving on a revoked license. Fleming was jailed last Wednesday, and is being held without bond until his trial. No trial date has been set.

Tucker said yesterday that the same officer who spotted Fleming's name, Sgt. Gregory J. Higgins, notified in writing the Department of Motor Vehicles last week of Fleming's past convictions. Higgins could not be reached yesterday for comment.

Federal court and Virginia motor vehicle officials said they could not determine how Fleming's criminal record was omitted from the department's computer files. They said the fault probably lies with a clerical error in either the U.S. District Court in Alexandria or the department.

Because the 1983 accident took place on the George Washington Parkway, which is federal property, Fleming was tried in U.S. District Court. State and federal officials said the clerk of that court was responsible for notifying the Department of Motor Vehicles that Fleming's license had been revoked. The department was then responsible for entering that information in its computers.

Doris Casey, the clerk of U.S. District Court, said yesterday that she had examined Fleming's "docket sheet," a form on which the clerk's office logs all actions in a court case. The sheet gives no indication that the Department of Motor Vehicles was notified of Fleming's convictions, she said.

But Casey said that some of her employes do not routinely record such notifications. "Some of the deputies do and some don't," Casey said. "And the girl that did {Fleming's case} no longer works here. I just don't know what happened."

Casey said that she would retrieve Fleming's full case file from a federal records storage center in Pennsylvania in the hope that it may contain a clear answer.

Tucker, the department spokeswoman, acknowledged that there is no way to know if a department employe might have received notification from the court clerk's office and failed to record it.

"To our knowledge we did not receive any notification until last week," Tucker said. "It could have just been lost in the mail. Who knows? We just know that we found out about it last week and we took appropriate action."

A computer check of Fleming's driving record performed Friday showed that his license had been revoked and listed his convictions on four traffic charges, including drunk driving, in the fatal 1983 wreck.

According to court testimony Friday, Fleming has three other drunk-driving convictions dating to 1955 and has driver's licenses issued by the District of Columbia, Maryland and Texas, all of which have been suspended.

Richard Mendelson, Fleming's attorney, said in court that he will challenge the order that permanently suspended Fleming's driver's license on the grounds that the judge did not have the legal authority to issue it. Mendelson also said he will contest the Nov. 9 charge of driving while intoxicated.