Macons Municipal Court is giving a Christmas gift to many people facing fines: amnesty for overdue citations.
During December, those with overdue fines or fines for failure to appear in court can show up at City Hall and just pay the original amount, according to a news release from city Public Affairs Director Chris Floore.
We recognize that people miss court dates for many reasons, some perfectly excusable, and this will save them the aggravation of going through the process of setting another date and trying to save enough money for the additional fine, Judge Robert Faulkner said in the announcement. It also provides a way for the Court to collect fines that may not have been paid for many months as people saved their money and went through the court process.
Theres no estimate of how much money could be involved in waived fines, he said. If people dont take advantage of this amnesty, though, the fines will be reapplied Jan. 1.
Faulkner said by phone that no matter why someone missed an original court date, its a problem to reschedule them as new cases continue to flow in.
Right now weve got probably 1,000 or so, at least, cases like this, he said. Were trying to clean up our database before the consolidation.
Macon and Bibb County governments are scheduled to merge Jan. 1.
In addition, the court itself will not be held in December except for those already in jail, Faulkner said.
Anybody that gets locked up will still have a hearing within a few hours, he said.
This isnt the first time Municipal Court has declared such an amnesty, Faulkner said.
Fines for failure to appear will be waived if the initial fine is paid in full. And if someone has had his or her drivers license suspended for not showing up to Municipal Court, paying the original fine in December will result in getting a letter for the Department of Drivers Services ending that suspension.
Many people are driving around unlicensed because theyve been unable to schedule a new court date, Faulkner said.
We just want to get a lot of these off peoples records, he said.
The city takes cash, cashiers checks, money orders, debit and credit cards at the Municipal Court office on the first floor of City Hall, 700 Poplar St. Its open 8 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Monday through Friday, except Christmas Day.
To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.