What the article doesn't mention is that, in Texas, this is like shooting fish in a barrel. Thanks largely to excessive fines and fees associated with traffic offenses, more than 10% of Texas drivers have outstanding arrest warrants.Spurred on by tight budgets and long lists of delinquents, courts across the USA are stepping up efforts to catch fine-dodgers who, combined, owe hundreds of millions of dollars in unpaid fines.
Strategies include computer upgrades, bank account garnishment and special court hearings to recoup money owed for everything from parking tickets to penalties for felonies.
"Justice doesn't have anything to do with revenue, but payment of traffic fines is important to each city that has a court," says Arlington, Texas, Deputy City Manager Bob Byrd.
This month, a law firm started combing through 37,011 unpaid fine cases in Arlington, some dating back years, to focus on collecting some of the $7.6 million owed to the court, Byrd says.
Arlingtonstarted getting tough on ticket-dodgers last year, issuing warrants for people who didn't answer Class C misdemeanors after 30 days. According to Byrd, the city pulled in $10.5 million from the payments last fiscal year, up 40% from 2007.
Thursday, April 30, 2009
BS claim of the day: 'Justice doesn't have anything to do with revenue'
Arlington, TX was the lead example in a USA Today story about cities and counties boosting reliance on traffic ticket and fine revenue to raise money during the economic downturn ("Courts trying to nail fine dodgers," April 29):