St. Louis, Mo. — In October, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay announced that the city would be lifting the arrest warrants on more than 220,000 minor non-alcohol related traffic violations in an effort to ease the burden placed on the poorest families when faced with a court fine.
“We issue traffic tickets for public safety, not as a revenue generator,” Slay said. “We will hold people accountable for traffic offenses. But, a missed court date for a minor traffic violation should not stand in the way of a job, access to housing, or anything else. It’s a balancing act. We want people to take care of their obligations under the law, but we understand that it can be burdensome and worrisome. We want to make it easier for people to get their affairs in order, but they must come in to do so.”
Anyone with a warrant cleared has until December 31 to schedule a new court date. Those who do not schedule new court dates by the end of this month will see their warrants renewed. Slay’s office says that about 3,300 people have taken advantage of the warrant forgiveness, which has cleared a total of about 10,000 cases. About 71,000 individuals face a renewal of their warrants if they do not schedule a new court date by December 31.
The inability to pay a fine will not result in jail time for a minor traffic offender, Slay’s office said. The St. Louis Municipal Court has several options available, including payments plans, special dockets, and alternatives to fines and incarceration.
The announcement was one of a handful from Slay in the wake of continued local and national protests over the shooting death of Michael Brown. Along with Slay’s promise to dial back needless traffic fines and court fees, Slay also stood with state senator Jamilah Nasheed a few weeks later to unveil “Ban the Box.” The policy removes the box a job applicant with the City of St. Louis must check to indicate a prior felony criminal conviction.
Anyone looking for information on their fines can visit the municipal court website to search for their name, date of birth, and zip code. A citizen may also schedule an appointment in person at the 1520 Market Street or call (314) 622-3231 for more information.
Collin Reischman was the Managing Editor for The Missouri Times, and a graduate of Webster University with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.