Amnesty Traffic Debt For Poor: California Implements New Program To Help Low-Income Residents

Amnesty traffic debt for poor residents in the state of California is soon to be implemented. It’s a program aggressively being put in place by Governor Jerry Brown, which is part of his annual budget.

ABC 10 News reports that the amnesty traffic program is for residents who can’t afford traffic fines and court fees that have resulted in millions of driver’s licenses being revoked. Brown’s program will go into effect October 1 and run through March 31, 2017.

The amnesty traffic debt for the poor means that drivers with “lesser infractions would pay either 50 or 80 percent of what they owe, depending on income.” It also make drivers who once had their licenses suspended now eligible to apply to have them reinstated. It’s noted, however, that DUI violations are ineligible.

Tickets that were due for payment prior to January 1, 2013, are the only ones receiving amnesty.

Over 4.8 million driver’s licenses have been suspended since 2006 due to motorists failing to pay the fees or appear in court.

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In another report by ABC News, reckless driving violations are also ineligible for people of lower incomes to get discounts on. It continues that civil assessment fees would be waived for some tickets.

Of the 4.8 million driver’s licenses that were revoked due to traffic penalties or court fees not being paid, only about 83,000 have been reinstated since 2006. These statistics are based on a report by the Department of Motor Vehicles released earlier this year.

Brown announced the traffic amnesty debt program for the poor in May. In doing so, he called the traffic court system a “hellhole of desperation” for citizens in that category.

The governor further alerted the concern of lawmakers and court administrators that “California’s justice system is profiting off minorities and low-income residents.”

Traffic fines in particular have soared and the government is more dependent than ever on fees imposed on low-income individuals when budget cuts emerged during the recession.

The fee for running a red light twenty-some years ago was around $103, but now it’s closer to $490. If a person is unable to pay the fees or appear in court over a traffic violation, the cost can leap to $800. This is due to California attaching add-on fees that help support a range of services that include court construction to emergency medical air transportation.

Amnesty Debt For Poor

The governor recognizes that it’s wrong for the system to use those at a disadvantage in order to profit.

CBS Local in Los Angeles spoke with Ray Dorr of Ticket Rescue. He says the ticket amnesty for the poor is a “great start, but we still have a long way to go.”

He says that there will be consequences with the program, as nice as it may seem.

“You’re still getting the point violations on the DMV record, which means that for every point that you’re taking, you’re still taking a 30 percent insurance increase over the next 39 months that that point remains on your record.”

Under the traffic amnesty program for the poor, at least citizens eligible for these deductions in fees and penalties are saving some. Instead of being faced with hundreds of dollars in fines, they get to settle for a fraction of what they once owed. Reducing the rates down as much as 50 to 80 percent of the original fine is good news for some who are barely making it. As Alfred Ramos of Sherman Oaks tells CBS Local, fees amounting to $230 dollars jump $550 plus very easily. He admits that he speeds whenever he gets the chance, but he’s been a lot more careful about speed limits. He says the traffic violations are a case of “just throwing your money away.”

[Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons]