Under new program, Ferguson judge says every day is amnesty day for minor traffic offenses

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FERGUSON, Mo. – The City of Ferguson, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Justice, has come up with a new project to avoid issuing warrants for minor traffic offenses.

Instead, the courts will just put a hold on driver’s licenses, a hold that will be removed free of charge when the motorists show up in court. Ferguson just calls the Missouri Department of Revenue for the hold to be attached to the license.

Ferguson was the scene of weeks of civil unrest starting in Aug. 2014 over the death of Michael Brown Jr. That prompted a look at some of the underlying causes of the violence.

Municipalities collecting millions of dollars in traffic fines and fees—mainly on the backs of the poor—was one of the problems.

Ferguson Judge William Goldstein says the new procedure is meant to end that abuse. Ferguson had some $2.4 million in revenue from fines and fees back in 2013. By 2019, that had dropped to $311,000. Last year, it was $196,000.

Ferguson is also trying to arrange the court schedule to accommodate as many citizens as possible. Court meets four times a month and there is day and night court. Court appearances can be arranged virtually or in person.

It’s all part of Ferguson’s push to make it as easy as possible for people to deal with the law when it comes to minor traffic offenses.

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