New Law to Help Pay Off Traffic Tickets

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WESLACO – Defendants will get additional chances to make good on traffic tickets, after the start of a new law.

Senate Bill 1913 has taken effect, creating more steps before a defendant could be sent to jail for not paying a fine.

It works "to provide judges with new tools and procedures to hold low-income Texans accountable without jail time," according to a statement by the bill's sponsor, Sen. Judith Zaffirini, Democrat from Laredo.

The law mandates specific options in situations where a defendant may be limited in income.

It provides options for payment plans, community service and tells judges they may waive a fine if a defendant is found not to have the means to pay.

Under the law, after sentencing, a judge will inquire about the defendant's income.

A hearing will be held if the defendant fails to appear. If the defendant fails to appear that hearing, the court may then issue an order of arrest.

The bill also provides alternative work options to going to jail. Defendants can work in a jail industries program, a county farm, or county maintenance projects, if available.

If such projects are not available, the defendant may be sent to jail. Their fine will be reduced by $100 per day when in jail. The previous rate was $50.

The public can read the full text of the law here.

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