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):
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.

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.


Anonymous said...

Don't do the crime, if you can't pay the fine............yeah.....don't do it!

And keep your eye, on the sparrow....

Anonymous said...

As someone who does not have an outstanding traffic ticket warrant, is on any type of probation, or has ever had to pay any of the fees added to violations to renew my driver's license I think adding any fee above the already too high fees and fines for probationers or traffic violators is just wrong. If someone can't afford car insurance adding a high dollar fee is not going to help them get insured. Why not add to the gasoline tax to cover basic required liability coverage and let people buy additional coverage as desired. I would not have to pay for uninsured motorist if this was done!

I live in Temple, Texas where the city police run a regular speed trap on IH-35. I have seen several Temple Police cars and motorcycles working the Interstate Highway at the same time. The Texas DPS has an office in the same area and they fish for speeders in the same area along with the locals. My main problem with this is I live on a 20 MPH residential street that has people going through the neighborhood at 40 plus MPH and I seldom see a police unit parked on our street to control traffic. Come to think of it, in the thirty years I have lived on this street I have only see the local police setup for traffic once.

I guess the politicians think no one will complain if out- of-towners get the tickets out on the Interstate. Several of my neighbors are more than unhappy with the lack of police protection since all the units are busy writing speeding tickets on IH-35. I am in total agreement with them. I guess we need the money since the city blew a wad of money on a giant new police station and jail. Also not to forget the new police cars for all of the officers that they drive home was a ton of cash plus gas and upkeep. I guess police to protect and serve is old fashion; now we have revenuers in police uniforms.

I am not even going to go into story about how the Bell County voters voted down a new county jail several times and the county commissioners built it anyway.

Anonymous said...

And of since there is no public transportation in Arlington squeezing money out of motorists is that much easier. A "target rich environment" for patrolmen.

Anonymous said...

Someone in Temple needs some cheese for their whine.

Jackie Buffalo said...

"... more than 10% of Texas drivers have outstanding arrest warrents." &
"OMG - 11% of Austin has outstanding warrants! That's not just overcriminalized, that's the kind of bizarro figures one expects to hear in true totalitarian states."

Well, thank you, I feel validated. I just knew this place felt like a Stazi Nazi state. I've been kind of thinking about Gov. Perry's talks of succession and it kind of made me think : how about if we, who don't want to live in a Nazi state just jump ship and let Texas succede ? The rest of the 49 states could then "go green" and by close to that time the old oil money would be running out. It might take a generation, but Texas would be dirt poor and isolated. You know, make a rule like on-line gaming guilds, once you leave you don't get to come back.
*shakes head in disbelief* I left Maine to come here for warmer weather. Hmmm, mountains of snow vs totalitarianism. Hey guys, I'm already making plans to jump ship.
My son has his learner's permit, soon to hit the roads ....

Anonymous said...

Then go back to Maine.

Anonymous said...

I am a TEXAN (7th gen) born and raised and I am angered at the laws that do nothing but impose more fines on people. THe surcharge for speeding, no insurance etc. etc is just BS. Williamson, Johnson, Bell counties are some of the money grabbingest counties in the state. If you do the crime you best be able to pay the fines for a long time, perhaps the rest of your life.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if anyone is going to do a POST recovery investigation on how much money Arlington had to spend to get back the 3.7 million in fines?

If all of these people owe all of this money, I find it very difficult to believe that there has not been, or there is not, a chance that they will be picked up on further charges, and the over-due fees collected at that time. I have the feeling that picking up the fees then would have less of a financial impact than being 'proactive'...

kaptinemo said...

As times get tight, this is going to happen in all 50 States, until folks put their foot down.

I live in VA, and travel the Dulles Airport Toll Road more often than not, and like clockwork, around the end of the month, you see the VA State Troopers posted on the toll islands that they can safely stand on, looking for easy prey. Often there are two at each toll gate they can do it from. And there are several of those along the route. in both directions.

But now, lately, in the middle of the month, I've been noticing an even greater VS police presence on the toll road as well; now they're going after the mid-month paychecks of motorists.

I shouldn't have to state the obvious that while they're doing that, they're not doing other things, like responding to reports of serious crimes.

As I said, this is going to get a lot worse, thanks to the economy, before enough people get sufficiently ticked off to stop what amounts to a return of the old-fashioned 'highwaymen'...who, this time, are not operating freelance, but have the blessings of The State.