MOUNT ENTERPRISE – Imagine you are driving through one of the many small towns in Texas. Blue lights appear in the rearview mirror.

Suddenly, you remember the last time you came through this town, you got a speeding ticket and you forgot to take care of it. 

Normally, the driver would not only be responsible for the original offense, but now he has a bench warrant for failure to appear along with some other administrative costs.

Unfortunately, this scenario is played out far too many times in Texas, and always to the displeasure to the driver. 

Mount Enterprise Municipal Judge Rand Cates has a solution to this problem – it’s called Safe Harbor.

Cates elaborated on the program.

“This is to allow persons with outstanding Class C misdemeanors traffic warrants or those who have defaulted on a payment plan, the opportunity to come to court and satisfy their obligations,” he said.

Cates went on to say that when they appear, the judge will recall the warrants without incarcerating the defendant. 

This is a part of new legislation by the state to help small municipalities and jurisdictions to clean up the dockets and get rid of old, pending cases. 

“If the defendant complies with the conditions of the court’s offer, the judge will dismiss any violation of the promise to appear warrant,” he said.

This has the potential of saving the hundreds of dollars to the offender who would only pay for the original offense. 

The program will take place from July 22 through Aug. 2.

Additionally, what most drivers don’t understand is that most states will deny anyone a license renewal with outstanding obligations with their resident state or other states.

“We have a compact with about 45 other states who will deny a renewal process until the fines are satisfied,” he said. 

The Safe Harbor program will accomplish several ‘win-win’ objectives for both parties. 

The defendant avoids possible incarceration in another jurisdiction. 

Local courts clear their criminal dockets.

Fines and court costs are satisfied.

The Texas Department of Public Safety will release the hold on a driver’s licenses renewal.

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