BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A local software developer is making it easier for people to claim an estimated one million dollars in traffic fees. The money belongs to thousands of people who received tickets in East Baton Rouge Parish.
It was business as usual on Tuesday in the traffic department at the 19th Judicial District Courthouse, only these days some citizens are leaving with a little extra money in their pockets. Norris Simon showed up to pay a ticket and was surprised to find the court owed him $100.
"When you came up here today were you expecting to get a refund," reporter Cheryl Mercedes asked. "Oh, no. I was expecting to pay somebody," Simon said.
There are thousands of people on that list who are unaware that they are owed a refund. Nineteenth Judicial District Judge Don Johnson said there is more than $200,000 worth of refunds in his court alone.
"That's a lot of money for our court that needs to be refunded," Johnson said.
For the last couple of years, traffic fines included a $50 fee the EBR Metro Council approved to help build a misdemeanor jail. The money has been accumulating at the city's finance department, but several months ago, the metro council voted to not build a jail, so that money must be returned. However, the claims process can be a bit overwhelming.
Software developer and owner of Clear Blue Design, Chris Dykes, said he wanted to help make getting that money a little easier.
"Something that always catches my eye is somebody releasing information. Maybe there is something we can do with it," said Dykes.
Dykes submitted a request for the database to the East Baton Rouge courts, Zachary, and Baker, and came up with an online tool that simplifies the process. Dykes said Baton Rouge City Court did not provide him with a list of names, but you can still submit an application through www.redbaton.org.
"It's very simple. You could probably do it in a minute, maybe less," Dykes said.
Just log on, type in your name, telephone number, address, upload a picture of your license, and it will let you know whether you are eligible for a refund and the amount. If you are, you simply add your electronic signature and hit submit. The courts handle the rest. Applicants have until December 31, 2016 to apply.
Any unclaimed money will be split between the court, the Public Defender's Office, and the EBR District Attorney's Office.