A new program aimed at helping Californians with limited means free themselves of driving debt will take effect this week as part of Governor Jerry Brown’s annual budget. Brown has long criticized the current traffic court system, calling it a “hellhole of desperation” for people who are caught in it. The inability to pay a spiraling amount of traffic fines and court fees has caused millions of driver’s licenses to be suspended in recent years.
This move comes in response to concern among lawmakers that California’s justice system is profiting off low-income and minority residents, especially as the costs of traffic fines have skyrocketed in response to the recession. To illustrate the depth of this problem, consider that the average fine for running a red light was around $100 twenty years ago. Today, that same ticket could cost a person nearly $500. If a person misses a court appearance or fails to pay the ticket, that number could grow to $800. Individuals who could not pay the initial amount are almost forced into further hardship, causing an escalating situation that can be very difficult to escape from.
To combat this problem, the new plan will allow the following:
- Eligible drivers within certain income limits may only be responsible for paying between 50 and 80 percent of their outstanding traffic debts, depending on the level of their income
- Drivers may be eligible to set up installment payments on outstanding debts
- Civil assessment fees may be waived for some debts
- Residents who have had their driving privileges revoked will be able to apply for reinstatement of their licenses
Drunk driving and reckless driving offenses will not be eligible for these privileges. Only debts due to be paid before January 2013 are eligible for these discounts.
The amnesty program will run through March 31, 2017.
Are You Struggling with Debt? Wadhwani & Shanfeld May Be Able to Help
Unplanned-for expenses like traffic debt can be a major financial burden for hard-working individuals and families. The loss of a driver’s license can also have a major impact on your ability to get to work and may impact your future earnings. If you are struggling with spiraling traffic fines and fees, we may be able to help you find a solution under this new plan.
To discuss your situation during a free consultation with our Los Angeles bankruptcy lawyers, please call our office today at (800) 996-9932.