California Offering Amnesty on Traffic Debt for Poor

1 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Buried under unpaid traffic fines? California launches amnesty program.

An amnesty program for Californians saddled with unpaid traffic tickets takes effect Thursday, paving the way for low-income drivers to win back their licenses.Starting this Thursday, drivers with outstanding traffic ticket fines from before January 1, 2013, will get a discount of 50% to 80% on what they owe, reports the L.A.

September 30, 2015 (Sacramento) – If you’re a California driver with an overdue traffic ticket fine, you may be eligible for a limited amnesty program starting this week under Senate Bill 85, which was signed into law by Governor Brown. Under the amnesty bill, passed by the California Legislature, there will also be an installment plan offered to help drivers pay those sometimes cripplingly high fines and fees.

Californians who lost their driver’s licenses because they could not afford to pay the fines will be eligible to have them reinstated, the Judicial Council said. Anyone with parking tickets, a DUI, a conviction for reckless driving or traffic fines from more recent years, however, is out of luck—the amnesty doesn’t apply to those. Since 2006, the state has suspended 4.8 million driver’s licenses after motorists failed to pay or appear in court, the Department of Motor Vehicles said earlier this year.

Many of those huge fees tacked on to traffic fines were added during an earlier budget crisis to help pay for the court system and other programs, according to the Times. The push by the Democratic governor highlighted concern among lawmakers and court administrators that California’s justice system is profiting off minorities and low-income residents. In Ferguson, Mo., simmering anger at the fines imposed by the court and the police – which disproportionately fell on black residents – was seen by many observers as fuel for last summer’s violence after the shooting Michael Brown, The Christian Science Monitor reports.

Those defendants will receive new court dates, new options for pretrial, and new options for disposing of their cases, such as payment plans or community service.

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