An audit by the Inspector General for the U.S Department of Transportation has uncovered that the State of Mississippi has misused federal funds designed for DUI enforcement. The federal government provides funding to state governments to help enforce DUI laws. Mississippi, like Tennessee, does not have a law on the books that prohibits all open containers of alcohol in motor vehicles. Due to the lack of a complete open container law, the government diverts some federal money to DUI enforcement . Tennessee is in the same boat on this issue as Mississippi; however, there is currently a bill in the state legislature that will cure the problem.
Mississippi misused federal funds by using the federal money for other reasons (i.e. seat belt law enforcement). The audit criticized the way Mississippi handled the money. One of the proposals made in the report was to require one DUI citation per 8 hour shift.
Tennessee also receives money from the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration . I don’t know where all the money goes but most of it goes the Governor’s Highway Safety Council . In fact, their website states the office is all federally funded. Also according to their website , the money goes to various places. Some of the federal dollars goes to fund extra DUI officers in Nashville, other cities and counties. These officers are commonly known as DUI grant officers. Under the recommendation set in Mississippi that there be at least one DUI citation or arrest per shift, it appears the government is setting an arrest quota. In fact, some Nashville DUI officers have received counseling because they don’t make a two DUI arrest benchmark. Clearly, Mississippi misuses federal money from the audit . The question I have is: Does the DUI grant and federal money create another federal bureaucracy by forcing officers to make a poor arrest decision based on the DUI grant or encourage overzealous officers to make an arrest?
Sometimes government can get too big and powerful.