October 21, 2010

MVA lax on suspending driver’s licenses, auditors find — along with many other problems

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By Megan Poinski
Megan@MarylandReporter.com

Because of failures to review driving records, the Motor Vehicle Administration sometimes left drivers on the road who should have had their licenses suspended, state auditors found. The department also failed to fully investigate potential fraud issuing licenses among employees, and lacked proper control over information, according to a report released Wednesday by the Office of Legislative Audits.

Drivers are supposed to have their licenses suspended when they commit too many motoring infractions, adding points to their licenses, or as a result of other offenses, such as failing to pay child support or having outstanding arrest warrants. Information on violations is fed into the MVA computers daily.

Auditors found that MVA staff did not verify computer-generated reports to identify cases that needed to be reviewed to determine the status of driver’s licenses. Between December 2008 and May 2009, 139 cases that needed to be reviewed were left out of the listing, and nothing happened to them. Auditors reviewed 20 of those 139 cases, and found that 16 should have ended in license revocation. The other four people had already had their licenses revoked for other reasons.

Failure to review some records also impacted the ignition interlock program, auditors found. Drivers convicted of drunken or impaired driving must pass a breathalyzer test before they can start their vehicles, and they could lose their licenses if they fail too many times.

Drivers in the program are only allowed to fail breathalyzer tests three times, and auditors found that some of the failures had been manually removed from the system. State regulations require that several pieces of documentation need to be presented to override a breathalyzer failure, and auditors found cases where the paperwork was missing.

The MVA also did not fully investigate cases of potential fraud that led to employee suspensions or firings. Auditors looked at 10 MVA internal investigations in 2008 and 2009, and found that the investigation stopped short for six of them. For an employee who made a fraudulent license, for example, investigators stopped looking into the case after finding out all the details about the one fraudulent license that they knew about. Auditors pointed out that in five of those cases, there were no criminal charges filed against the employees because there was not enough evidence in terms of dollar amounts and transactions.

Other issues found in the audit include:
· Lack of controls over updating driving records, approving suspension information, vehicle registration information, and computer systems.
· Easily accessible databases with names, driver’s license information, bank account numbers, and credit card information.
· A vulnerable virtual computer server.
· Insufficient controls over license plates and stickers in offices and at vehicle dealerships.
· Checks were not secured prior to depositing.
· Disbursement procedures were not always followed.
· Processing of motorists whose vehicle insurance lapsed was not reviewed.

In her response to the audit, Transportation Secretary Beverley Swaim-Staley concurred with all the findings and said she has implemented reforms.