For the first time in over a decade, Lubbock Municipal Court will be trying out an amnesty program. Starting Monday, November 8th, for two and a half weeks, anyone with an outstanding ticket issued in 2003 or earlier can go into Municipal Court, and they guarantee you will not be arrested. Judge Robert Doty says, "With warrants outstanding, someone cannot renew a driver's license. If they go to DPS with outstanding warrants, they'd be arrested at that point." City Councilwoman, Phylis Jones says, "It starts a domino effect, they can't get insurance because they don't have a valid driver's license."
Jones and her colleagues on council, along with Judge Doty, have decided to help about 25,000 Lubbockites with oustanding warrants wipe the slate clean. Judge Doty says, "Any type of warrant, any type of ticket we issue, yes it will be included in this program." Those tickets are mostly for traffic offenses and serious parking violations, but also include citations for public intoxication and disorderly conduct.
Jones says, "It's a tremendous win for citizens that need to come in and take care of business." Doty says, "We will work with them on any options... payment plans, work release, community service, jail credit if they've served any time in jail in the meantime." Not to mention the court will waive the failure to appear fee. A fee that runs upward of $120.
Judge Doty hopes enticing offers like that will generate a big response, but he admits, he has no idea what to expect come Monday. He says, "We just have no clue. We'll give it a try and see what happens." The oustanding tickets that are included in the amnesty program total over $9 million. Some of that money goes to the state, some to the court and the rest to the city. Judge Doty says it's all money they would have collected eventually, but they're hoping to speed up the process.
The program includes tickets from 2003 or earlier, but people who have tickets from this year don't need to fear arrest either. If they go into Municipal Court with the intention of working things out, they're not going to be put in jail. Again, the program starts Monday. It ends on November 23rd.
Municipal Court is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 to 5:00. There will be extended hours on Saturday, November 14th from 8:30 to noon, and on the Thursday the 18th and Tuesday the 23rd, Municipal Court will be open until 8pm.