Driver’s licenses at stake for late fines

RAYMONDVILLE — Driver’s licenses are on the line here.

Motorists who fail to pay traffic tickets will not get their licenses renewed.

It’s part of a program aimed at forcing people to pay outstanding fines that have soared to nearly $500,000.

As part of an agreement with the city, the Texas Department of Public Safety will deny driver’s license renewals to defendants who have failed to pay their outstanding fines.

Until they pay up, their licenses will not be renewed.

Municipal Judge Felicita Gutierrez believes the program will force violators to pay.

“It’s going to work because people who have licenses want to keep it,” said Gutierrez, who pushed for the program.

But she admits many motorists here drive without licenses.

“It’s unbelievable,” she said. “There are a lot of people driving around without a license, and if they don’t have a license you can almost bet they don’t have insurance.”

Motorists cited for driving without a license face $278 fines.

Gutierrez said the program will help the city recover delinquent fines that date to about 2010.

The city does not have a collection agency to pursue violators with delinquent fines, Gutierrez said.

“People don’t have money to pay and we don’t have the means to collect money,” she said.

City Manager Eleazar Garcia said police officials discussed launching a warrant roundup before the city implemented the new program.

Garcia did not have information readily available to determine the date of the city’s previous warrant roundup.

The new program takes effect after DPS officials sign the agreement, Garcia said.