Broken headlight or brake light? One police department will give you a gift card instead of a ticket to repair it

It’s part of a nationwide program involving 60 police departments, each receiving $500 worth of gift cards to hand out to drivers to help them repair what’s broken.

HONDO, Texas — If you get pulled over for a broken head light or tail light, you’ll probably get a warning or a ticket.

However, starting Wednesday, drivers in Hondo will instead get help to fix their car.

In lieu of a ticket, drivers are getting $25 gift cards to a local auto shop to help fix what’s broken.

KENS 5 followed Hondo officer Ivan Rodriguez Thursday afternoon along Highway 90 as he handed out the first batch.

“The reason for the stop is one of your headlights is out in the front,” he told one driver. 

After running their driver’s license, Rodriguez returns to their car to deliver the good news.

“It’s just gonna be a warning,” he told drivers. “We’re handing out $25 gift cards for your equipment just to get it fixed.”

This initiative is part of a nationwide program.

Advanced Auto Parts is partnering with 60 police departments across the U.S. handing out $500 worth of gift cards to fix defective equipment.

“This is the first time in Hondo. We’re happy to bring it here to Hondo,” said Gregorio Jimenez, Jr., Commercial Parts Pro at the Advanced Auto Parts in Hondo.

Jimenez, who has previous experience as a mechanic, said most of the time when there’s a defective brake light or tail light, it’s just the bulb that needs replacing. Most of the time, this will cost the consumer a few dollars.

“They see the blue and red [lights] behind them and they think it’s not gonna be a good day, but this will actually help them toward the repair on their vehicle,” said Jimenez. “It feels good to help the community, help people who are sometimes in need. Some people may not have the money to cover that headlight or tail light.”

Handing out gift cards for repairs isn’t just helping the driver. Hondo Police Chief Justin Soza said it’s helping protect others on the road, too.

“Looking at the brake light, let’s take out the interaction with law enforcement completely, that brake light being out could result in a crash, completely disabling that vehicle to where they no longer have something to go to work,” Soza explained. 

Defective equipment, Soza said, isn’t something we always prioritize.

“We’re aware that we’re speeding, we’re aware that we’re not using our blinker, we’re aware that we run the stop sign, but a lot of times we don’t do a walk around our vehicle to see if our brake light is out — especially if we’re by ourselves,” said Soza. “Vehicles are inspected once a year, so that’s something that people aren’t really aware of.”

Qumecindo Santillano, who was pulled over for a defective tail light, was the first person in Hondo to happily accept a little financial help.

“That’s one heck of a great deal. Before, I’ve gotten a ticket for up to $140 for just a little something. This time I got a good break,” Santillano told us. “$100 is a big chunk of money!”

Hondo police only received 20 gift cards, so for now, the program is on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Chief Soza is optimistic that this opportunity could turn into a continuous partnership. Once the gift cards run out, he’s hopeful they can offer this help again in the future.

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