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NYC Courts Dismiss Over 640,000 Warrants For Unpaid Summonses

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — In a single day, New York City courts have thrown out over 640,000 arrest warrants for people who didn't pay tickets for minor offenses years ago.

District attorneys in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens joined in Wednesday's effort.

In Queens, 100,000 were tossed while 240,500 were vacated in Manhattan.

"Outstanding warrants for years-old, low-level cases drive law enforcement and communities apart," Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said in a statement.

In the Bronx, 160,000 were dismissed.

"The people who have these warrants have not been in trouble with the law for a decade or more, and it is time that they are given the opportunity to live productive lives, free from summonses hanging over their heads," Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark said in a statement.

And in Brooklyn, applause rang out in a courtroom as 143,532 warrants were cleared.

"We know that none of those people were ever told that failure to pay those fines would lead to an arrest warrant," Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said. "I believe that someone who owes a $25 fine should not be arrested and brought down to central booking."

The warrants date back a decade or more. They cite such offenses as riding a bicycle on the sidewalk or being in a park after hours.

"Those are lives we're talking about that are impacted. This is not just a number, there's a person behind that warrant," City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said.

Participating prosecutors say some people who get into fender-benders or even report a crime end up arrested over old summons warrants they didn't know about.

But their counterpart in Staten Island says the dismissals are unfair to people who do show up in court.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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