Mayor: Traffic court system is broken

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Everyone's heard the old jokes about how the DMV is "Hell on Earth", but according to some citizens the joke would probably suit a different department a little better.

Folks who've gone through Montgomery's traffic court know the problem. One local college student, who didn't want to be identified, told WSFA 12 News she did all the right things and still got arrested. So what's going on?

The woman's story started when a Montgomery police officer pulled her car over for a broken headlight. "I had 48 hours to get it fixed and prove I had gotten it fixed," she said. "They would throw the ticket out and it would be dismissed."

So she did just that. She got the light fixed the next day, and with receipt in hand she drove down to the city municipal court. Once there, she stood in long lines like everyone else waiting for their turn at the window.

"They said it was not in the system yet that it usually takes about twenty-one days," the woman said.

So, twenty-one days later she found herself standing in that long line again. Once she was at the window the attendant gave her a slip of paper to sign an extension to give her more time to pay the ticket. The woman says when she asked to speak with the attendant's supervisor the attendant asked an officer to arrest her. "It was humiliating," she says.

Interim Mayor Charles Jinright didn't know the woman's story personally but he still believes the system is broken. Numerous calls come into City Hall complaining about the long lines and slow service.

"I'm giving the acting director the authority to add more people to get the system fixed because it's really a broken situation," Jinright said.

Now, three additional people are in the process of being hired into the system which, theoretically, should speed thing up as far as getting tickets processed.

Folks shouldn't expect the lines to get shorter anytime soon, however. Municipal Court Director Kenneth Nixon says there is a high volume of traffic tickets issued in the capital city. He encourages people to pay their tickets online.

As for the woman who went to jail, she says she spent about five hours behind bars that day. She is pleased to hear that the problem is being addressed, but adds the process should never again be that difficult.