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Friday, December 28, 2012

Audit: Errors in DDS record system could cost Georgia $30 million

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  • GA DDS
A recent audit has exposed flaws in the Georgia Department of Driver Services' record system which could potentially cost the state upwards of $30 million in federal funding.

The state's 31-page report found that some courts at all levels across the state have either failed to report certain convictions - particularly drug, traffic, and stolen vehicle ones - or took far too long to report them. Auditors discovered that 28 courts were not forwarding many convictions to the DDS. And in some cases they didn't even know about the requirement.

In Georgia, DUI offenders have ability to expunge a license suspension if a conviction isn't made. According to the AJC, that runs contrary to a new federal law, meaning that the state must amend its procedures by 2015.

The investigation highlights a disconnect between Georgia courts and the DDS on numerous related issues. The AJC also pointed out a few additional discrepancies yesterday, saying that:

- State law requires courts to report offenses within 10 days of the conviction date. About 300,000 of the million convictions processed last year did not meet this requirement. As a result, state driver records are not up to date with convictions, points and license suspensions.
- When DDS detects errors in conviction records, it returns them to the courts for corrections. Last year, state officials identified 58,650 such records needing corrections. As of August of this year, 53,449 had not been resolved and resubmitted to the state.
- About 9,500 "super speeder" fine notices were returned as undeliverable between 2010 and 2011. Of those motorists, about 5,700 had not paid their fines as of April of this year, causing more than $1.1 million in fines to go uncollected.
- Driver records also are marred by some inaccurate addresses, missing and inaccurate case numbers for convictions and missing blood alcohol levels, used to determine the length of license suspension for first-time DUI offenders under age 21. Omissions of critical driving violations from states where Georgia drivers previously lived also hamper identification of problem drivers, the report says.

DDS Commissioner Rob Mikell said in a statement that the agency will "look forward to studying" the audit's suggestions. Meanwhile, a spokesman for Georgia House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, says the lower chamber's top leader is looking into ways to recommend changes during the upcoming legislative session.

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