Amnesty week offers way to skip late fees on past-due court fines

URBANA — Residents who have run afoul of the law in Champaign County and owe the government money because of it should take note of the chance to pay fines without fees and interest.

Circuit Clerk Katie Blakeman is offering an amnesty week from Sept. 10 through 14.

Residents who have unpaid traffic tickets or past due fines and fees in criminal cases can avoid paying the collection fees and interest for those five days only if they pay the total amount originally ordered in their cases.

By law, when a defendant in a traffic, driving under the influence or criminal case does not pay fines and court costs by the date ordered by the judge, additional interest and collection fees can be charged.

Blakeman explained that in Champaign County, 90 days after the due date, cases with unpaid costs are sent to Harris and Harris, a Chicago-based collection agency.

During the amnesty week, Blakeman's office will be open extra hours at the Urbana courthouse on East Main Street from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The office will also accept payments by mail that week if they are postmarked by Sept. 14.

Individuals may even qualify to get their driver's licenses reinstated when they pay all of their overdue traffic fines in full.

This is the second year that the circuit clerk has offered an amnesty week.

In September 2017, 181 cases were paid in full, bringing in more than $120,000 and saving defendants more than $36,000.

"This is a great opportunity for customers who have delinquent fines and fees to settle their accounts, and move forward while saving a substantial amount of money," Blakeman said. "The most rewarding part of last year's Amnesty Week was seeing the number of participants who were then qualified to have a driver's license reinstated.

"Last year, we saw more than 100 customers who were then able to go directly to the DMV to renew or apply for a license. We hope to see even more participation this year."

Blakeman reminds that all cases must be paid in full. No partial payments or personal checks will be accepted.

Acceptable forms of payment in person include cash, cashier's check, money order or credit card with valid identification.

If paying by mail, acceptable payments are money order or cashier's check or money order.

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