Pay up or don’t drive

Published 11:32 pm Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A change on the operational activities will mean citizens convicted of traffic or criminal charges who do not pay their fines will lose their driving privileges.

That change will go effect immediately for future charges and charges about three years old will be researched for the same penalty, said City Clerk Priscilla Daniel.

The process will work off of issued citations or charges. Charged citizens who fail to show up for his or her trial date on the citation will receive a notice at home that another trial date has been set. Whether that person shows up for their second court date or not, the trial will be held and if a person is found guilty another notice will be sent to the home notifying the person that he or she has 30 days to pay the fine, Daniel said.

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If that time period elapses and the fine is not paid, then the person will be found in contempt of court and $250 fine will be added to the fine. In addition, the person’s driver’s license will be suspended. During a consecutive traffic stop, the person with the suspended license will be charged with driving with a suspended license and someone will either have to drive that person home or he or she will be taken to jail, Daniel said. If the car has to be towed, the towing fee will also be the driver’s responsibility.

After a driver’s license has been suspended it will cost $25 to have the license reinstated, unless the person was charged with a DUI or with possession of marijuana, which will cost an additional $100, Daniel said.

Old fines are not immune from the effort. Daniel said the city will begin researching old unpaid fines back two to three years, to begin with. Notices will be sent to those with outstanding old fines and those owing the fines will have 30 days to pay them. If old fines are not paid within that 30-day time period, then a $250 contempt of court fine will be added to the amount owed.

“I would suggest that if (people) know they owe a fine and it has not been paid, they can come on in now and save themselves a $250 contempt of court fee and a suspended driver’s license,” Daniel said.

When people come to court to address charges Daniel suggests they bring the amount of money necessary to pay their fines, if convicted.