By Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – When Sidney Mullen drove through a safety checkpoint a few weeks ago, a quick look at his license turned into a couple of nights in jail.
Mullen, 37, had no idea there was a warrant out for his arrest because he forgot to pay his speeding ticket.
Hundreds of people fill the Lee County jail every year from arrest warrants stemming from unpaid speeding tickets. Like Mullen, many of them just simply forget they have the tickets, according to Tupelo Municipal Court Director Larry Montgomery.
In fact, Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson said the majority of his jail population is from people who have failed to pay tickets and fines.
This was a lesson Mullen had to learn the hard way.
“I got the ticket a while back and just plain forgot it,” he said. “It’s my own fault and the police did their jobs. It just slipped my mind, but after spending a little time in jail, I promise you that’s a lesson I’ll never have to learn again.”
Had he paid his $100 ticket when it was due, Mullen would have saved himself some money. But after being arrested, he had to post bail and pay the ticket and court costs. Mullen said he had to pay an additional ticket for driving with a suspended driver’s license which was $319. He said was out more than $700.
Procrastinating on a speeding ticket is not a good idea, Montgomery said. Also a bad idea: not reading the information on the ticket.
“You should read that ticket fully,” Montgomery said. “It will tell you everything you need to know. Sometimes people just don’t read them and end up causing more problems for themselves in the long run.”
Montgomery said people with tickets will be mailed a notice after they are 10 days late paying the fine. Four days after that, a warrant is issued for failure to pay. The information is sent to Mississippi Highway Patrol, which could result in a suspended driver’s license.
Sometimes people live at different addresses from the one on their license, so often they don’t receive their notices.
Mullen said he learned a very valuable and expensive lesson.
“I guess the moral of the story is handle your business before your business handles you,” said Mullen. “No one wants to end up in jail. But if you let these things linger for too long that is where you’ll be. I could have saved myself a lot of trouble and money.”
Contact Danza Johnson at (662) 678-1583 or firstname.lastname@example.org.