- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 23, 2014

VELDA CITY, Mo. (AP) - Velda City residents will get a chance next month to clear a bundle of unpaid traffic tickets by paying a one-time fee.

The St. Louis County municipality will offer its 1,420 residents the opportunity to pay a $200 failure-to-appear charge for up to three traffic tickets, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported (https://bit.ly/1vbYZCS ). Residents can also pay $100 more to take care of six additional tickets.

The program will not include alcohol-related offenses.

Thomas Harvey, a lawyer who represents indigent clients, called the ticket forgiveness program the most progressive he’s seen. But he also said that while canceling warrants is helpful, it doesn’t remove the main stumbling block for many people, which is a lack of money to pay their ticket in the first place.

“Unless we do something about the pay dockets by reducing the fines, these people are going to be warranted again in the near future,” Harvey said.

Velda City has about 4,000 active warrants, and about 85 percent of them are for traffic cases.

Residents with nontraffic cases, or 10 or more traffic cases, will still be asked to appear in court, but they can post a $100 bond to cancel outstanding arrest warrants.

Police Chief Daniel Paulino said the court would likely lose money with the program, but that it would help rebuild trust within the community.

“We felt that this is the best way to help the people,” he said.

Some other St. Louis-area cities, such as Clayton, are also planning amnesty programs for minor traffic violations.

The city of St. Louis is offering a warrant amnesty this week at the municipal court at 1520 Market St. until Friday. Individuals can pay $35 to cancel their warrants, no matter how many, and a new court date for their charges will be set. It excludes DWI, DUI and leaving the scene charges.

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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, https://www.stltoday.com

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