Some carried grande Starbucks cups. Some wore full-piece suits. Some wore shiny black heels. One a pair of fur-lined brown satin slippers and another a dark gray “Drink Lagunitas IPA” gray zip up. All were gathered at the Charlotte T. Zietlow Justice Center early Sunday morning in downtown Bloomington to pay their tickets earned during Little 500 weekend.
Every year on the Sunday of Little 500 weekend, Monroe County Prosecutor’s offers a pretrial diversion program for people who received tickets for underage drinking, public intoxication and other smaller charges.
The pretrial diversion program allows those ticketed during the weekend to pay the ticket, participate in a community cleanup, attend a drug and alcohol class and commit to staying out of trouble for a year. There is no misdemeanor or felony, in exchange for the dismissal of the charge.
This year, 166 tickets were issued, which follows the downward trend in number of tickets issued during the weekend, Monroe County prosecutor Chris Gaal said.
“It’s starting to get comparable to a big football weekend,” Gaal said.
At 8 a.m. Sunday the line outside the center sprawled out the entrance with about 30 people from there to the College Avenue and Seventh Street intersection.
One man approached the group.
“Uh huh, I guess I’m in the right line,” he said and continued with short, low bursts of laughter for a few moments after.
Inside, people were organized by last name to fill out an acknowledgment of rights form and a pretrial diversion program form.
People continued to shuffle down the hallway to get their forms.
A group of two men greeted each other as they walked through the court’s hallway.
“What up, bro?” members of one group said to the other.
Those ticketed also had the option to forgo the pretrial diversion program and enter a plea in front of a judge. Judge and IU law professor Mary Ellen Diekhoff was hearing individual cases while others were filling out their forms.
More than 25 court employees came at 10 p.m. Saturday night, midnight Sunday and some came at 7 a.m. They were organizing and reviewing arrests and citations, Gaal said.
The director of of the pretrial diversions program, Jeremy Cooney, gave a 15-minute presentation to those who came to settle their tickets. Seventeen did not show up and will have warrants issued for their arrests.
In his presentation, Cooney broke down what the people need to do to complete the program and get the charge dismissed. This includes the completion of a drug and alcohol class and a day of community clean up.
“You can be done with all of this today,” he said.
For people who come from out of town, the prosecutor’s office allows ticketed people to get their requirements done in one day. They also work with out-of-towners to see if they can complete the requirements in their hometowns. Some, like one group that had plane tickets to fly out of Indianapolis at 1 p.m., can’t finish the class and service in one day.
Tori Drixx, a junior at University of Cincinnati, came to visit friends for the weekend and got a ticket for using an ID that was not her own. Police issued her a ticket when she was in line at Kilroy’s Sports.
“I don’t regret it,” she said.
She will complete the program requirements at home.
While those in Bloomington have the option to schedule their community clean-up time, many of the ticketed chose to complete their requirement Sunday and headed to Memorial Stadium, where they worked throughout the Bloomington community to clean up the post-Little 500 mess of beer bottles, red Solo cups and food that littered the street and sidewalks.
“It’s a real benefit,” Gaal said. “By the evening, it’s gone.”
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