SAPD begins rounding up unpaid warrants

Unpaid traffic tickets, city code violations could mean a backseat ride

SAN ANTONIO – Pay your outstanding fines or get a free ride in handcuffs.

The grace period for the 10th annual Great Texas Warrant Roundup has ended, and San Antonio police are looking for people with outstanding warrants for Class C misdemeanors. Those are things like traffic and city code violations.

There were more than 300,000 warrants at the beginning of the grace period. About 17,000 were settled during the grace period, and officers are going through a list of outstanding warrants as well as using license plate readers to find others.

"I mean, we can clear 100 warrants in one day," Officer Robert Rodriguez said. "That's a lot of money that the city will be getting."

The first person Rodriguez and his partner picked up Monday had 21 unpaid tickets. Rodriguez said they were looking for people with several outstanding warrants first.

Residents had a chance to pay off their old tickets at the Municipal Court on Frio Street during the grace period. People with warrants still have that option, but in the meantime, officers will be looking for them.

"If you want to pay, they'll bring you down to the Mag's office, and you can pay instead of being processed through the detention holding area," said Chief William McManus.

Even if someone arrives in cuffs, they won't end up in jail for unpaid tickets.

Civil liberties groups worry poor people who can't pay tickets may end up behind bars during warrant roundups. San Antonio doesn't do that.

"You can walk into the court and work out a payment plan, or get on community service, or negotiate having part of that debt waived, and you don't have to worry about being sent to jail," said Rebecca Bernhardt of the Texas Fair Defense Project.

SAPD Spokesman Officer Douglas Greene wrote in an email that "Judges and court staff will work with individuals unable to pay or are experiencing financial hardships by offering reduced fines and fees; community service, payment plans or jail credits."

Jail credits refer to time someone may have spent waiting in the Magistrate's Office when they were picked up on the warrants. It does not mean time spent in the Bexar County Jail.

Police will come looking for you if you haven't settled up. Not answering the door may not be enough to avoid a backseat ride during the roundup.

As he left the apartment of a man whose car was parked out front, Officer Rodriguez said the man hadn't escaped the roundup.

"No, we'll be back, and we're going to try to find out where he works, get some phone numbers and go that route," Rodriguez said.

Click here to find out if you have an unpaid ticket.

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