Scofflaw program expands in Hidalgo County

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POSTED: Wednesday, August 14, 2013 - 4:50pm

UPDATED: Thursday, August 15, 2013 - 8:11am

Starting on Wednesday, August 14, Hidalgo County is expanding their Scofflaw Program in an effort to recover money owed to the county.

But just what exactly is a scofflaw?

If you owe a fine to the county of Hidalgo that is 90 days past due, your account will be flagged at the tax office as "scofflaw."  Once this flag is issued, you cannot complete vehicle registration until all fees owed are paid off.

The Scofflaw Program commenced in October 2012, denying vehicle registration services to residents who had outstanding fines owed to justice of the peace courts.  About $40 million in traffic citations were owed to the justice courts when the program began, and since it's conception, over $1 million in overdue fees has been collected.

The expansion is part of the second phase of the Scofflaw Program which now includes county court misdemeanor and district felony cases.  Those with felony or misdemeanor fines that are 90 days late are flagged as scofflaws and will not be able to register their automobile until the fines are paid in full, just as the original version operates.

Hidalgo County Clerk Arturo Guajardo, Jr. says the total amount of fees owed in county and district court cases prompted the expansion.

"Everyday fines are being paid and fines are being assessed, but $11 million, roughly $11 million was turned over this morning to be flagged at the tax office in misdemeanor fines and felony fines And again, these are only the fines that have gone 90 days past due."

Residents of Hidalgo County are encouraged to go to the county's online pay portal to check if they are scofflawed by the tax office for overdue fines.

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