The Department of Public Safety said an error in an “automated process” caused about 5,000 drivers’ license suspension letters to be sent out to people who have had DUI charges dismissed as far back as 2010.

Public safety department spokesman Warren Strain said the department is working with the contractor for the system, MorphoTrust USA. The “automated process” is part of the processing that occurs when the Driver Service Bureau receives incoming citation information from courts, posts driver records and evaluates driving sanction requirements, Strain explained.

MorphoTrust USA has a 10-year contract with the department for $22,881,575 for drivers’ license modernization, according to the state’s contract website.

The Department said it spent about $2,200 in mail and postage sending out the letters.

According to the original 2012 contract, MorphoTrust USA was to provide public safety with a “turnkey system of equipment, software, installation services, technical support, maintenance, and training for the implementation of a Driver License System.”

MorphoTrust USA referred all questions to DPS.

Lawyers across the state this week began receiving calls from former clients who have had DUI charges dismissed telling them they had received letters saying their licenses would be suspended in January. DUI charges may be dismissed for a variety of reasons, including insufficient evidence and lack of necessary witnesses.

Strain did not immediately respond to questions about how many letters were sent out in error and how the department will notify recipients of the letters that they were sent in error.

The public-safety department is asking those who have received letters dated between Dec. 11 and Dec. 19 to immediately contact the Driver Records Division at (601) 987-1224. Strain said the Department will be sending clarifying information to customers by mail.

“The Mississippi Department of Public Safety regrets any inconvenience this error may have caused,” a statement from the Department said.

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Kate Royals is a Jackson native and returned to Mississippi Today as the lead education reporter after serving in the same capacity from 2016 to 2018. Prior to that, she was a reporter for the Clarion-Ledger covering education and state government. She won awards for her investigative work, including stories about the state’s campaign finance laws and prison system. She was a news producer at MassLive in Springfield, Mass., after graduating from Louisiana State University’s Manship School of Mass Communications with a master’s degree in communications.