A NewsChannel 5 investigation discovered some judges go easy on truckers who end up in traffic court -- because they don't want to hurt the truckers. And what the judges are doing is against the law.more>>
A NewsChannel 5 investigation of ticket fixing in the city of Nashville has caught the attention of the federal government.
What we discovered could end up costing the state of Tennessee millions of dollars.
The warning about the potential cost to taxpayers came in a letter sent to the Tennessee Department of Safety.
It also comes on the heels of questions first raised by a NewsChannel 5 investigation.
For the past year, NewsChannel 5 Investigates raised questions about how Davidson County judges let truckers keep traffic citations off their records -- in apparent violation of federal law.
For the past two months, the investigation raised questions about a new version of that practice that allowed truckers to pay the fines, but have the tickets recorded as dismissed.
In a letter to the state Safety Commissioner Dave Mitchell, the U.S. Department of Transportation says:
"Recently, it was brought to [the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's] attention that Davidson County courts continue to engage in masking or diversion programs. We received documentation that indicates that county judges are collecting fines and court costs from offenders, but recording a dismissal of the citation."
That information was provided to the feds by NewsChannel 5 Investigates as part of our investigation.
DOT warns that this practice in Davidson County "puts the state out of compliance with the federal regulations."
It warns that federal money for state highway programs could be cut if the state is not in substantial compliance.
The federal government has given the state until March 31st to come up with a plan to fix the problems.
And, now, Davidson County judges have pledged to discontinue the practice.