The report revealed that over three years, between 2007 and 2010, the Mississippi Office of Highway Safety received nearly $21 million in federal taxpayer money meant to create and run programs to combat drunk driving. Mississippi authorities then spent another $36 million in federal highway money on similar programs. Unfortunately, not all of the money went where it should.
Instead of using the money exclusively for fighting drunk driving, Mississippi police departments took the money and used to it fund normal operating costs, something specifically disallowed by federal regulations. Officials in the state Office of Highway Safety distributed money to local police departments without documenting why the money was needed or providing any sort of supervision of its use.
The Inspector General’s report found that of the 127 state and local officers who had been given federal DUI money, a full 73 percent of the officers never issued a single drunk driving citation. Instead, the money was spent setting up speed traps, issuing hundreds of citations for seat belt use and other minor traffic infractions. Out of all the officers receiving the NHTSA DUI money, only 147 DUI arrests were reported, far less than the number mandated by the U.S. Department of Transportation. In fact, the report found that only 21 officers hit the intended DUI arrest target.
Auditors that were hired to examine the books found that millions of dollars were squandered in either improper or purely bogus claims. Auditors believe that fraudulent claims for the DUI money come to $7.1 million in Mississippi. The NHTSA says it will be demanding a return of the improperly spent money, forcing the state to cough up millions in misspent federal grants.
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Source: “US DOT Blasts Mississippi For Diverting DUI Funds To Speeding Tickets,” published atTheNewspaper.com.