EXCLUSIVE: Traffic violator round-up

February 9, 2009 3:10:09 PM PST
Several people received a very early wake-up call this morning from Philadelphia warrant officers. The jostle out of bed happened because they did not pay their traffic tickets.

Action News was the only station along for the ride.

Trucks and vans pulled up to traffic court early this morning. They were carrying people wanted on warrants for traffic violations. Those people were pulled out of their homes overnight. It sounds harsh, but some of those people owe thousands of dollars in traffic fines.

The message from the court is clear: Pay up or warrant officers will come looking for you.

Overnight teams of warrant officers fanned out across the city. They had one mission - to bring in people who were wanted on warrants for failing to pay up for traffic violations.

Lt. Samuel Turner of the Warrant Unit told Action News, "This morning we're going to take two teams of officers and we're going to target the Northeast and East section of Philadelphia for folks who have failed to appear at their traffic court proceedings. At which point we are going to try to apprehend those individuals and bring them back into custody and have them clear some of these traffic court matters up."

Warrant officers say these are not average offenders. Some have dozens of unpaid tickets and tracking these people down isn't always easy.

We're told some of those picked up overnight owe thousands of dollars for open traffic violations.

Authorities say they granted offers to surrender, to pay up voluntarily, but it didn't happen. So, last night warrant officers came looking for them.

The end result, the court says, did not have to happen. "Again, we want folks to come in and clear these matters up on their own. But we also want folks to know that we will come out and actually look for you and bring you back in if you don't want to surrender yourself," explained Lt. Turner.

One of the offenders picked up overnight owes $22-thousand in traffic fines - another owes $19-thousand.

Hearings begin at 10:00 this morning. The judge will likely negotiate payment plans.

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