South County : Amnesty to Be Offered for Traffic Infractions

Drivers who have ignored warrants issued against them for failing to appear in South County Municipal Court on minor traffic violations are offered a chance to save money beginning Monday.

Presiding Judge Pamela L. Iles said that fines will be assessed for the original citations but that charges of failure to appear in response to warrants, "which usually carry a terribly big fine," will be dismissed. The amnesty will end June 19.

Margaret A. Hamlin, administrative executive for Municipal Courts, said drivers may present the citations at the traffic clerk's window in the Laguna Niguel courthouse at Crown Valley and Alicia parkways or may appear in traffic court to settle their cases.

Both she and Iles emphasized that the amnesty applies to city and county violations but not to violations of state codes such as drunk driving.

Hamlin said there has been no indication of how many offenders will take advantage of the amnesty.

"It could be 5, 50 or 5,000," she said. "We do know we haven't had as many advance inquiries as we expected, so we won't have any idea of the response until we see what happens Monday."

Depending on response, the amnesty period could be extended or cut short.

While amnesty had been offered in other court districts with varying degrees of success, Iles said, this will be the first time it has been tried in the south county district.

The idea behind the offer is to clear up a heavy backlog of minor traffic cases, bring in "considerable amounts" of fine money and save the courts the cost of serving the warrants.

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