There was a possibility that if you were caught speeding or blasting through that red light you could get away without paying the ticket you received.
Sure, you would get a few phone calls, maybe an annoying letter or two and eventually a warrant, but that's about the most the city can do. And that's only if they catch you.
This is the kind of system 2,500 Galveston County residents with warrants from League City Municipal Courts took advantage of, but no longer.
Starting July 1, residents in Galveston County with unpaid traffic violations, fines and fees will be unable to renew their vehicle registration until they've paid what they owe.
"If they try to renew their registration there'll be a flag on it saying they cannot fully satisfy the fine at the Municipal Court," League City Municipal Court Administrator Shirley Murphy told Hair Balls.
League City created a three-way partnership with the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Galveston County Tax Office in the program that they believe could bring nearly $1 million into the city bank account.
"We do send notices... we have Warrant Round-Ups every year, we make phone calls, and there's the warrant officer that tries to do it, but he's one person and with 2,500 just in Galveston County, it's pretty hard for that one person," Murphy said. "I guess it's just something they'll disregard until their luck is gone."
Murphy said that while there is about a $23 fee attached to every file she sends, this is a small price to pay to collect the $993,000 the residents owe. These files will allow the defendants to be flagged. Once defendants pay the fine and the fees for paying late, they will receive a receipt they can present to the county to register their vehicles.
Texas Transportation Code Chapter 702 allows a tax assessor-collector or department to refuse the registration of the vehicle, and every charge sent to an offender will tack on another $20 fee.
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Of course, there's still the chance that instead of opting to pay up, a driver could instead just fail to renew his registration -- counting on not being stopped by law enforcement.
"There are just some that are going to take the chances," Murphy acknowledged.
Murphy said that while the process has taken some time to develop software and work with the different departments, the city has been busy mailing and notifying defendants to give them the opportunity to take care of their fines before any flags are placed on accounts.
League City urges Galveston County residents with outstanding warrants to contact the League City Municipal Court to obtain the paperwork they need to renew their vehicle registration.