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New Program Lets Drivers Pay Warrants During Police Stop

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NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A new approach by some police departments is saving officers time and money, and saving some drivers from a trip to jail!

The new way of taking care of outstanding warrants is making life easier for a lot of North Texans.

The City of Plano started the program and began recruiting other cities, including Grand Prairie. Now a dozen North Texas cities are giving you a second chance to pay your warrants.

Think of it as a kind of “get out of jail card,” but these come at a cost.

Chief Marshal Nicholas Nunez, with the Grand Prairie Police Department, said, “With a credit card, you can be done in 10-15 minutes. And you’re on your way home instead of going to jail.”

At least a dozen North Texas cities are making it easier for those with Class C Misdemeanors, such as unpaid tickets, to avoid going to jail.

Normally offenders would have to pay cash, use a cashier’s check or a get a bondsman to get them out of jail.

Currently the cities of Arlington, Carrollton, Cedar Hill, Denton, DeSoto, Euless, Fort Worth, Grand Prairie, Irving, Lancaster, Pantego and Plano all allow offenders to pay their warrants with a credit card right at the pot where they’ve been pulled over. The payments are made by phone or online.

“People are surprised about that, because a lot of them… the minute we approach the window they are already saying, ‘I’m going to jail,’” Nunez explained. “But once they get a confirmation we can release them.”

The result? Officials in the cities say they have less crowded jails, court cases are closed quicker and residents are saved the embarrassment of going to jail. The new program also means officers aren’t spending extra time filling out forms and transporting offenders.

Vicki Smith is the court coordinator for the City of Plano. She said, “Officers aren’t taken off the street and spend hours in booking, filling in paperwork and that kind of stuff. It’s a win/win for several and we’re hoping more and more jurisdictions will you know jump on board.”

Other municipalities are hoping Dallas will be the next big city to join the program.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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