State Audit Accuses Sheriff of Violating Law

Posted at: 08/18/2013 6:24 PM
Updated at: 08/19/2013 12:11 PM
By: Nick Winkler

At issue are county-run safe driving classes. These are the classes offered to drivers stopped for minor traffic violations, which are often a cheaper alternative to paying a traffic ticket and do not impact a driver's record or insurance premium.

However, county-run safe driver programs allow the county to keep all of the money it collects without giving the state a cut as they would if a traffic fine is paid or with court-run diversion programs.

The state auditor's report, which will be made public Tuesday, says Wabasha County is not authorized to run such a program.

It turns out at least 13 other counties run safe-driving programs similar to the one in Wabasha County.

Sheriffs argue these programs are legal and the state is not entitled to any of the money since the courts are not involved. A group of sheriffs is now lobbying lawmakers for clarification on the laws governing divergence programs.

Lawmakers are hopeful the issue will be addressed during the next legislative session.