Houston Community News >> Unpaid Traffic Ticket Offenders May Face Arrests

11/24/2006 Houston -- A word of warning to anybody who hasn't paid traffic tickets in Houston during the past few months.

Next week, the city's municipal court system plans to send out tens of thousands of postcards telling scofflaws they're subject to arrest.

The delay can be traced back to a story we've been telling you about for months now -- big trouble with a new computer system.

Because of the problem-plagued system installed last April, a lot of people have been dodging their debts and their dates with justice and getting away with it.

"We really took our time to be cautious about not issuing warrants that really should not have been issued," said Berta Mejia, presiding judge with the Houston Municipal Court System.

The court system's new computer system has been such a big mess, the City of Houston has delayed issuing about 47,000 arrest warrants that have been put on hold for more than six months.

For Houston's city courts, this is just more fallout from what's become a notoriously troublesome computer conversion.

"Well, the problem is fundamentally that we were operating with 1940s and 50s technology for decades and decades," explained Mayor Bill White. "We postponed going to a new system. There was a huge backlog that needed to be, you know, huge system renovation."

But it's still possible that some people who've already paid their fines, for example, will end up with arrest warrants.

That's why the city's mailing cards to alert people.

"We're sending this, these cards just in case there has been an error and a warrant should not have been issued, for those defendants to call in to handle it," said Mejia.

But soon, a lot of people who haven't paid their traffic tickets and thought they'd gotten away with it could end up in jail.

(Contributed by Texas Cable News, Doug Miller)