Dallas Has Basically Been Ignoring Unpaid Traffic Tickets for Months

Categories: Crime

DallasCopRadarGun.jpg
Flickr user Phillip Winn
"Why do I even bother?"
Back in January, when we did very hard math in an effort to identify which cities write the most traffic tickets, Dallas was well off the leader board, writing far fewer tickets per capita than most big suburbs. Now, a bonus, courtesy of WFAA: Whatever traffic tickets police have written in recent months could basically be ignored with impunity.

Since October, 25,000 warrants for unpaid traffic tickets have gone untouched by the city, owing to a new computer system that's keeping municipal judges from signing the warrants. From WFAA:

In the first two months of 2013, Dallas municipal judges signed 21,232 warrants, according to municipal court activity records.

In the first two months of 2014, those same judges signed just 518 warrants, a 98 percent decrease.

The reason: On October 1 last year, Dallas municipal courts computerized their traffic ticket system. The switchover, Judge [Dainel] Solis said, has not let judges create the paperwork needed to sign the warrants.

The average traffic fine can average $200, said attorneys who represent traffic violators in court. The City of Dallas does not net all of that money, but in aggregate, traffic ticket revenues can represent millions of dollars a year for the city.

Solis told the station they've started working through the 25,000 backlog, so if you're sitting on an unpaid ticket and were thinking maybe they'd had a change of heart or got drunk and forgot, no dice. Pay up, or they'll come after you. Someday. Maybe.

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30 comments
Dan_Carter
Dan_Carter

The problem with this chart, which was the same problem in the original article citing these numbers, is that the rate is not comparing the correct variables.

The tickets written should be compared against residents of driving age for that  city, or if the information is available, licensed drivers in that city. 

That way, a better measure would be given, that is, traffic tickets per licensed driver.

josephm.royer
josephm.royer

my Aunty Kaylee recently got a nearly new blue Volkswagen Routan by working part time off of a macbook. see this W­ o­ r­ k­ s­ 7­ 7­ .­ C­ O­ M­

ruddski
ruddski

Had a girlfriend who got a ticket in Tarrant county. Didn't pay, but had to renew license or registration, so she calls: "I have a warrant, but I need to renew, if I come in to renew, will I get arrested on the warrant?"

Clerk says " why no, of course not, we just need you to renew, come on in!"

You can guess what happened, and yes, she's blonde.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

It seems to me that if they have sat on the tickets this long without issuing a warrant or otherwise pursuing it, it should be dismissed for lack of prosecution.  The whole thing smacks of a due process violation.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

Dallas' computer system has always been crap and still is.  There's a ghost "warrant" that pops up for me all the time, for a ticket that was long since paid (over a decade old).  It comes up, a call goes in to Dallas, it gets purged, a year or two later... it's back again.

James080
James080 topcommenter

Dallas is broken. Beyond repair?  Try to pick a department that's doing its job and doesn't suck at it.


Mayor Rawlings wants to fix DISD....I hope he manages DISD better than he leads Dallas.


I assume it's a rebellion by the municipal judges in reaction to Dallas staff/council new over-site of the muni court system instituted last year.

How did this story birth? I doubt anyone at city Hall had a clue that enforcement had stopped.  Joe, did the DMN or DO discover this story, or did the ticket defense lawyers tip (either or both of) you off because their ticket defense practices were drying up because judges stopped signing warrants?

MikeWestEast
MikeWestEast

Another example of problems that drive people up the wall when hearing Mayor Rawlings, Mary Suhm, Mr. Gonzalez (fill in blank with city leader) has been "doing a GREAT JOB."  Those ridiculous editorials in DMN demanded a city manager with vision.  We want a city manager and staff that simply makes things work.  The word VISION should be banned at City Hall unless spoken by a Council member.  Everybody else is a drone there to execute processes.  And they suck at it.

s.aten
s.aten

Nothing like professional city management.

gabbahey
gabbahey

Just thought I'd chime in here:


On two separate occasions (between 2010 and 2012), I had gotten tickets in Dallas proper. I went to take care of them (requesting deferred adjudication), which they set up court dates to go before the judge. On both of those days, the exact same thing happened: I checked in, sat in the court room until I was called (along with about 50-60 other people requesting the same thing). 


EVERYBODY who showed up those days were let go, and our tickets completely dismissed. There should have been an additional fee once we left the court room (the fee for "deferred adjudication"), but nope, we were all dismissed, hence no city revenue. #truestory



manny2freshhh
manny2freshhh

Balch springs and.mesquite love giving out traffic tickets and red light camera tickets. Balch springs even put up another light and cameras so they could keep u in town longer and maybe catch you lol. Seagoville used to patrol the highways but herd dallas got upset about that in which i dont understand but guess it keeps money away from Seagoville so my guess dallas dislikes Seagoville more than balch springs and mesquite. U can basically fly up and down hwy 175 all day in southeast dallas. In my experience dallas dont care too much about issuing traffic violations but these small towns do shit dallas is even morw likely to let u go.

manny2freshhh
manny2freshhh

Balch springs loves writing traffic tickets. They even put up another traffic light with cameras to make more money off of the cams. I been here since 96 and my understanding is dallas dont care too much about traffic tickets but them small towns thrive off of it and cameras. Mesquite and balch springs patrol like hawks. Seagoville used to patrol the freeways but herd dallas got upset at them but not balch springs so Seagoville dont patrol the highway too much these days so u can basically fly up and down 175 towards crandall untill u see crandall pd or sherrifs. Out all these departments dallas is the most likely to let u go without a ticket in my experience.

WhiteWhale
WhiteWhale

The warrants are meaningless beyond being a basic collection tool.  It is all about the dollars.  My friend's wastrel chronically broke son racked up a bunch of unpaid tickets in Dallas and the surrounding cities.  The warrants are typically only enforced during traffic stops.  He got picked up in Irving and got hauled before a judge.  He was told pay up or go to jail.  He told them he did not have any money nor would anyone lend him money so he guessed it was jail.  After a few days it turned out Irving did not want him after all.  Irving called Dallas and asked about the Dallas warrant.  Dallas asked if there was money involved.  After finding out there was not any revenue to be had Dallas didn't want him either. 

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

A lot of pot holes would be fixed with all that money.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

It costs too much to enforce payment beyond voluntary payment of a fine.

It is a numbers game.  

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@ruddski  

I vaguely remember a Milwaukee morning DJ pulling an April-fools stunt like this sometime back in the 1900's. Show up on April 1 to settle up parking violations with the court and automatically cut your fines by half, or something like that.

As I recall, they lost more than a few listeners that day . . .

WhiteWhale
WhiteWhale

@everlastingphelps Often they go to a collection agency.  The 200 dollars becomes 1000 dollars and up.  It is all about the dollars.  Sort of like a lottery ticket for the city.  Many do not pay but those that require a valid drivers license for employment may eventually pay up.

ruddski
ruddski

@Phelps

I had the same problem in Arlington. Every time I got pulled over, it was " you have a warrant..."

Every time, I said " fine, arrest me then", but they never did.

They had a problem with someone stealing, and it's been screwed up ever since.

I'm sure that right now, there's any number of warrants for me there. Come and get me, coppers!

casiepierce
casiepierce

@gabbahey Because the officers who write tickets don't get paid overtime to show up at court. No witness = dismissed. The whole thing is a farce.

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

Not entirely true. The State of Texas pays a municipality per a prisoner per a day. That's why "waiting out a ticket" works. And if you've ever been to jail, you know that city isn't spending that money on you. Well except for Highland Park where you get Whataburger.

casiepierce
casiepierce

@WhiteWhale I have heard that if you turn yourself in it's supposed to be like $100 a day or something so if you owe $700, plan to spend a week. But they really don't want you so you end up spending something like 12 hours in the clink.

casiepierce
casiepierce

@holmantx You'd think that if the police pulled someone over who has multiple unpaid violations, they'd just let him go because there is no money in it.

ruddski
ruddski

@casie

That's why, for fifty bucks to a lawyer, you can effectively ignore speeding tickets there.

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