- Associated Press - Monday, December 7, 2015

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Hundreds of people gathered during Baton Rouge’s annual “amnesty day” for a chance to pay traffic tickets and work with judges on-site to resolve their district and city court warrants without risking arrest.

East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar C. Moore III and Councilwoman C. Denise Marcelle said that between 1,200 and 1,500 people showed up Saturday, starting as early as 6:30 a.m., local media outlets reported.

Judges set aside bench warrants for unresolved traffic violations, allowing defendants to pay off the original fines and considered waiving traffic fees and imposing alternative sentences, including community service or reduced payments, for those not able to pay off the citations.

In addition to asking for alternatives to fines, Moore said many came prepared to pay their tickets.

“I was very impressed by the response of the public and willingness to resolve these issues,” Moore said.

More than 100 employees from multiple government agencies staffed the event. Officials estimate that members from the various agencies were able to address only 250 and 300 people.

“I’m disappointed we weren’t able to handle every person that came,” Moore said. “Moving four or five courtrooms to an off-site location was a challenge.”

Those who didn’t manage to get in the door received “rain checks” that for the same opportunity this week.

The amnesty day comes amid political jousting in parish government over how to tackle about 160,000 outstanding warrants. About 60 percent are for traffic violations, and they include many repeat offenders.

Officials said the day sparked ideas on how to handle such a large crowd more efficiently in the future.

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