Fulton County DA eyes collecting unpaid fines

JOHNSTOWN – Fulton County District Attorney Louise Sira wants to keep a closer eye on defendants who haven’t paid their DWI fines.

Sira’s office is stepping up local efforts to collect outstanding driving-while-intoxicated fines owed to the county.

She received preliminary approval from the Board of Supervisors’ Public Safety Committee Monday to transfer $2,000 within accounts to pay her staff to pursue past due county STOP-DWI Program fines. The program’s administration is run through the district attorney’s office.

Fine collections fund the program, which offers services such as reviews of road safety hazards in the county, funding of post-prom parties for local high schools, the free New Year’s Eve Taxi Program, scholarships, and overtime funding for local police DWI patrols.

“What we’re trying to do is take care of older fines,” Sira said. “We want to devote time, effort and energy and look at people who have owed outstanding fines.”

The committee voted to transfer $2,000 to the STOP-DWI reimbursement account from her office’s professional services account. The full board will consider approval of the transfer Aug. 12.

Sira said she can partially dedicate an employee or two to addresses the backlog of DWI fines due. DWI information is routinely reported to the state Department of Motor Vehicles.

Northampton Supervisor Linda Kemper, committee chairman, asked if there is a statute of limitations on collections of DWI fines.

Sira said there isn’t, but the effort can be a protracted and time-consuming one. She said much “hands on” work is required by staff, who have to take time to review old court dockets and determine what the courts have done on disposition of DWI cases. But she said the effort can be worth it, with defendants held accountable and fines collected in a more timely fashion.

“This is for DWIs,” Sira said. “This [revenue] all comes back to the county.”

By -