Rio Hondo: Just Following the Law

More victims are coming forward after a law is bringing up decade old fines.

Harlingen native Tony Gutierrez went from earning $1,000 a week as a truck driver, to just barely getting by, working a minimum-wage job.

The Texas Department of Public Safety denied his license renewal, and he said it's all because of a traffic ticket he got in Rio Hondo, about 22-years ago.

"I've renewed my license a few times, and usually they take you to jail if you don't have your stuff taken care of," Gutierrez said.

Now he wants to know why a 22-year-old ticket - he claims to have paid for - resurfacing now.

He is not the first to reach out to Action 4 News on this matter.

John Hancock also got notice of a failure to appear in Rio Hondo - he paid his ticket 24 years ago. He said now they want him to pay it again.

On many are also demanding answers.

"I'm not the only one being affected by their mistakes in waiting so long to collect," Gutierrez said. "There's no other city that waits that long to collect."

Action 4 did some digging and learned the scofflaw passed in 2011 allows cities to collect old debts.

Rio Hondo City Manager, Ben Medina, said the city is simply abiding by that.

"It's not an isolated case that Rio Hondo wants to go after people who owe us fines," Medina said. "It's just that people, when they go to DPS and have their license renewed, they will appear in the system and they just have to come back and make arrangements (to pay)."

Medina claims the city has excellent record keeping, adding they do have the paper files of drivers with unpaid fines more than 25 years back. The chance that there was a clerical error in these files, is minimal, he said, but not impossible.

"People need to come and visit our judge and present their case," Medina said. "We will present him our documents, and he will determine what to do at that point."