BOSTON (CBS) – An independent audit of the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles said that the state’s “long-standing policy of not prioritizing the processing of out-of-state notifications” was likely a factor in the state’s failure to process the drunken driving arrest of Volodymyr Zhukovskyy in Connecticut. However, despite recent improvements, there are still backlogs and risks at the RMV.
On June 21, a pick-up truck driven by 23-year-old Zhukovskyy collided with a group of motorcyclists, killing seven. Zhukovskyy has pleaded not guilty to negligent homicide. However, a preliminary audit revealed that Zhukovskyy’s license should have been suspended due to a drunken-driving arrest in Connecticut.READ MORE: Worcester Remembers 6 Firefighters Killed 22 Years Ago In Cold Storage Fire
The crash led to the firing of the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles director after it was found that the agency stored 45,000 convictions and suspensions levied on out-of-state drivers since March 2018 rather than acting on them. This lead to an independent audit of the agency conducted by Grant Thornton.
The final audit, released Friday, said a lack of effective operational control and inadequate risk management – including lack of oversight by the Merit Rating Board – contributed to the problem.READ MORE: Boston Police Warn About Drinks Being Spiked With Drugs At Bars
The report also identified additional risks due to backlogs in other areas of the RMV, including adding criminal information to drivers’ records and tasks relating to ignition interlock devices. The audit also found warnings issued by police departments in paper format had a 10-year backlog, that some drivers had multiple driving records and that CDL license holders who should have had their licenses revoked for life due to two or more OUI convictions were not disqualified during the 2006-2015 time period.
“I agree with the emphasis in the Grant Thornton report on the importance of culture change at the Registry,” Acting Registrar Jamey Tesler said in a letter to Massachusetts Department of Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack. “I will also continue to emphasize with all of the RMV’s employees what has been my priority since arriving here – that all employee functions are essential to the RMV’s overall mission and responsibility to our customers and the safety of the roadways.”
In particular, Tesler said the RMV will act on every out-of-state offense notification and process the paper backlog and all daily incoming mail with a new Deputy Registrar for Safety overseeing the newly-created Out-of-State Notifications Processing Unit. Tesler said he has hired a new chief compliance officer and reconvened the Merit Board.MORE NEWS: Coronavirus In Massachusetts: Today's Developments
Tesler said he will also consider the auditor’s recommendations in the coming weeks.