Dallas County Targets Outstanding Traffic Tickets
DALLAS (CBS 11 News) ― Police in Dallas County are cracking down on people with outstanding traffic citations and other Class C misdemeanors. Offenders with one or more citations could be sent to jail. The stern warning comes from Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez and County Commissioner John Wiley Price.
Pay up or get locked up.
The county has more than 600,000 outstanding traffic citations. That equates to about $200 million in fines and fees.
Starting on Monday, the county will begin a zero-tolerance policy for 90 days. That means that those with one or more outstanding traffic citations, or other Class C misdemeanors such as writing a bad check, could end up in Dallas County Jail.
Why is Dallas County starting this policy? Simple. It needs the money. Dallas County officials are trying to solve a $34 million budget deficit for next year, and commissioners do not want to raise property taxes.
According to Valdez, deputies will be working closely with constables to find the offenders. "It's not going to be, we accidentally stopped you on the road and you have a ticket," she said. "We're going to go out and pick up these people, and hold them accountable for what they should have done a long time ago."
Two years ago, in an effort to solve jailhouse overcrowding, Dallas County authorities started writing more citations for people to appear in court, instead of throwing them in jail. "That's one of the reasons we have this kind of accumulation," explained Price, "because those individuals who were released to appear did not appear."
To make room for those who will be arrested, the sheriff is reopening jail cells. The county had to get state permission because the jail has repeatedly failed inspections. "They've been offline so that they can take care of water fixtures, showers and what needed to be done," Valdez said. "And we're bringing them back online. We will monitor the situation every night to make sure we're still in compliance."
Anyone who wishes to simply pay their outstanding citations can do so starting Monday morning at the county courthouse, the Sheriff's Department, or the Justice of the Peace. (© MMVIII, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)