When you have been driving for a while, it is easy to slip into some habits in the way you drive. Some of these may not be entirely within the law. You might consistently drive a few miles per hour over the speed limit. Maybe you roll through a stop sign at an intersection you have been through thousands of times. Perhaps you often pick up your cellphone to read texts while driving. Any one of these habits can be a reason for a police officer to pull you over and issue you a citation.
Overwhelmingly, the top reason that scores of Californians do not pay their traffic fines is that they simply cannot afford to pay. As a result, approximately 612,000 people in California have a suspended driver’s license for failure to appear in court or to pay their tickets.1
Gov. Jerry Brown recognized the disproportionate impact of traffic fines on California’s lowest income drivers, who often lose jobs for lack of transportation or face additional fines for driving on a suspended license. Calling the traffic court system “a hellhole of desperation,” Brown introduced an amnesty program for unpaid traffic tickets. Since this program began recently, 58,000 drivers have already had their fines reduced up to 80 percent from their original fine amount.
How the Amnesty Program Works for California’s Drivers
To qualify for the amnesty program, you must have:
- An unpaid ticket that was originally due to be paid on or before January 1, 2013, and
- You must not have made a payment after September 30, 2015
If both of these are true of you, you may be eligible to have both your debt reduced by up to 80 percent and your driver’s license reinstated.
If you made a payment after September 30, 2015 on a ticket, you are not eligible for a reduction for that ticket. However, you may be eligible to have your driver’s license reinstated if you are in good standing on a payment plan.
The amount of reduction is dependent upon your income. For example, if your yearly income is 125 percent of the federal poverty level or less, then you will qualify to have the ticket amount reduced by 80 percent. For a single person, the federal poverty level is $14,712 per year.
Most types of tickets are eligible for the program. However, the amnesty program does not apply to parking tickets, reckless driving or DUI violations. If your citation is not in these categories, you may be ineligible if you have outstanding misdemeanor or felony warrants or if you owe victim restitution on any case.
To determine your eligibility, you can contact the superior court in the jurisdiction where you received the ticket to determine your eligibility to participate in the amnesty program.
While it will save you money, the courts, counties, and third-party collections vendors are permitted to collect an amnesty program fee of $50 payable to the superior court or county. The Department of Motor Vehicles will also charge a $55 driver’s license reinstatement fee as it does for any license reinstatement.
Contact the Traffic Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich to Fight for You
Whether you are a new driver or a veteran of California roads, sooner or later you might find yourself with flashing lights in your rearview mirror. If you get a ticket, our skilled team of traffic attorneys at Wallin & Klarich can help you. We have more than 35 years of experience successfully helping clients fight traffic violations. We know how to give you the best defense available in traffic court, no matter the violation.
With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is a Wallin & Klarich attorney available near you no matter where you work or live.
Contact our offices today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.
1. Associated Press, “58,000 California drivers have traffic fines and court fees cut under amnesty,” The Los Angeles Times, March 15, 2016.href=”#ref1″>↩