DECATUR -- If you've received a traffic ticket in DeKalb County in the last few years and haven't heard from the court, you could be in for a surprise. You could suddenly find your license suspended for 'failure to appear'.
The court is still dealing with a backlog of cases and just because you haven't heard from them in years, doesn't mean your case has gone away.
"DeKalb County's Recorders Court is the real mess," Eugene Russell lamented, after getting 'failure to appear' notices two years after his last court appearance.
In 2009, he received a speeding ticket along with two other citations. In March of 2011, he appeared in court and then waited to hear about his trial date.
He didn't hear anything until January of this year when he received 3 notices for 'failing to appear'.
DeKalb County's Recorders Court has had its fair share of scandal over the last few years - clerks accused of taking money to fix tickets, hundreds of thousands of backlogged cases, and people being threatened for license suspension for tickets they thought they'd paid years ago.
"I'll be honest with you, we've dismissed a lot of people in the last 3 years," said DeKalb County Recorders Court Chief Judge, Nelly Withers.
Withers was brought in to clean up the mess and clear the backlog of hundreds of thousands of court cases. Unfortunately, some problems, like Russell's case, still linger.
Withers told 11Alive it should not have taken two years to get a trial date set, but says that Russell was notified about his case.
The problem; Russell moved and didn't contact the court.
"When I moved in fall 2011 I still hadn't heard from them but I did an official change of address with the Post Office," Russell replied.
"Notifying the Post Office is great for your power bill, it is not great for your court," Withers said.
So how did Russell receive the notices for 'failing to appear'?
DeKalb County Recorders Court uses an outside agency to track you down to let you know you owe money. Like a bill collector, the third party will work harder to find you, something the court is not required to do.
Changes are coming. DeKalb County Recorders Court is now working on a new website for you to be able to check to see if you have outstanding traffic violations. In the meantime, if you've moved you can easily change your address with the court by emailing them.
|If you have an open case, you can click here to email them the court about address changes or to ask about your case. Be prepared to provide a case number, name and birth date and driver's license number.|