BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - An estimated $1 million in traffic fees is waiting to be claimed at the City of Baton Rouge Finance Department. The money belongs to thousands of people who got traffic tickets in East Baton Rouge Parish.
19th Judicial District Judge Donald Johnson is concerned that many of those citizens are unaware that they are owed a refund. On nearly any day of the week, people head downtown to court to take care of business. For many of them, that means paying a traffic ticket.
Johnson said for the last couple of years, that fine included a $50 fee the EBR Metro Council approved to help build a misdemeanor jail.
"Most of us wouldn't know we paid that fee," Johnson said.
That money has been building at the city's finance department. However, several months ago, the Metro Council voted to not construct a jail. This summer the legislature repealed the law requiring the $50 fee.
The money collected under the fee since then should have gone back to the citizens, but only after citizens put in a claim.
Johnson said he recently learned that was not happening.
"I noticed three weeks ago because I inquired, what was the rate of applications in my court? There was only one out of 4,000 that had applied," Johnson said.
Applicants must fill out a detailed form, stating how much they paid, what date they paid the fine, and where. Johnson admits the information can be tough to remember. So, he is making it easier for citizens in his court. He has published a list of names, ticket numbers, and the amount each person is owed.
"It's a minimum of $50. Some might have multiple bench warrant assessments. So they might be entitled to $200, $300, $500," Johnson said.
Money that is not claimed by December 31, 2016 will be split between the court, the public defender's office, and the EBR District Attorney's Office.
"Bottom line is, it's your money. You should get your money," Johnson said.
Johnson has created a list online with all of the people in his court who are owed money.
Anyone that has a citation in another court must contact that court or the city-parish finance office at (225) 389-3061 to find out whether they are owed money.