Audit says driver diversion programs illegal - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Audit says driver diversion programs illegal

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (KTTC/AP) -- A new report from Minnesota's auditor says local governments should not be setting their own driving regulations.

Auditor Rebecca Otto is referring specifically to driver diversion programs like the one in Wabasha County, which allow motorists the option of paying a ticket for a traffic violation or enrolling in a safe driving class.

In Wabasha County's program, drivers with minor traffic violations can take a safe driving course instead of having a ticket on their driving record.

Across the state, officials say the classes generally cost less than a ticket and the violation doesn't go on your driving record. Otto says there's nothing in state law authorizing local governments to set their own driving laws. Minnesota Public Radio News says Attorney General Lori Swanson agrees with the audit's assessment.

So does attorney Erick Kaardal. Earlier this year, Kaardal filed a suit against Wabasha County over the county's program. But, right now, Wabasha County Sheriff Rodney Bartsh says the program is not going anywhere and will continue as normal, unless the judge in the case rules against the county.

Other local police and sheriff's officials agree with Wabasha County's stance. Buffalo Police Chief Mitch Weinzetl says evaluations of the program class done by violators are nearly all positive. More than 35 communities in Minnesota operate driver diversion programs.

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