Texas Statewide Warrant Roundup
As government budgets across the country feel more and more pressure, state and local municipalities must find other means to generate revenue. In Texas, the annual statewide warrant roundup helps cities collect millions in outstanding fines.
Last March, over 250 law enforcement agencies from around the state participated in the roundup. Typically, these events occur in the spring though many other cities and jurisdictions conduct other roundups throughout the year, as Dallas County did recently.
In August, Dallas marshals sent notices to those with outstanding warrants warning them that they would be arrested if the fines were not paid. A WFAA report notes that in the August roundup, officials were targeting over 134,000 people with nearly 421,000 delinquent traffic and non-traffic violations, totaling $99 million in uncollected fines.
Other jurisdictions also face the dilemma of how to collect millions of dollars in outstanding traffic fines. In Fort Worth alone, of the nearly 843,000 cases filed from January 2008 to March 2010, over 125,000 warrants were issued for nonpayment according to a Star Telegram report. The warrants represent over $78 million in revenue.
What You Should Do?
According to officials cited in The Dallas Morning News report, many people fail to pay traffic citations because they do not know their options. Many assume the only option is to plead guilty and pay. Some will attempt to avoid paying the fines indefinitely and try to avoid arrest. But the same officials also warn that if arrested during the round up, offenders usually only have two options – pay the fine or go to jail. Law enforcement officials urge people with warrants to take care of the situation proactively, citing the opportunity to negotiate and deal with prosecutors.
If you have or suspect you have an outstanding warrant, getting help is crucial. The first step, however, is to make sure that your case never gets that far. If you have received a traffic citation, it is important not to ignore the ticket or hope that it will go away on its own. Failing to pay or fight the fine can have serious consequences. An experienced traffic defense attorney can help explain your options.
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