Palmview Resident Unable to Pay Citation after Office Closes Early
PALMVIEW - A Rio Grande Valley woman said she was put at risk of receiving an arrest warrant due to an office closing before their scheduled closing hours.
Palmview resident Belinda Cedillo said she's a single mother of two who works hard to provide for her daughters.
Cedillo said she was recently pulled over and received a traffic citation. Her deadline to pay the citation was last Friday.
When she arrived to Hidalgo County Precinct 3 Place 1 Judge Luis Garza's office, she was surprised at what she found.
"When I went to the doors, there was already two constables at the door talking to other people, letting them know that it was closed," she said.
Cedillo explained she arrived at the office at 4:05 p.m. According to the office’s sign, closing hours are at 4:30 p.m.
She said she made sure to arrive before closing and avoid more legal problems in case her ticket went unpaid.
"I said… ‘What if I get a warrant for not paying it?’ Which I did come on time and they said, ‘It's not our problem. You come and speak to the judge another day,’” she said.
Cedillo told CHANNEL 5 NEWS she's frustrated, angry and nervous about the thought of being arrested due to the office not honoring their business hours.
"If I get stopped and get arrested, they're not going to care if – what excuse I have. There are no excuses. I came on time. They're not going to believe that, if I came on time or not. The thing is that I didn't get my ticket paid on time," she said.
CHANNEL 5 NEWS reached out to Judge Garza's office. We arrived minutes to noon, but the office was closed early for lunch.
We later spoke to Debra Gonzalez, the court administrator. She explained that doors were closed early Friday by the judge's authority.
Gonzalez said this has become a common occurrence due to their office being overwhelmed by the rise in DPS tickets this year.
She explained closing the office early is a way to ensure the office drawer is balanced and employees are able to leave by 4:30 p.m. She assured us no late fees will be assigned to Cedillo or other people turned away due to early closing hours.
CHANNEL 5 NEWS spoke to Cedillo on Monday. She said she paid her ticket and also confirmed that she was not charged a late fee.