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Beverly Hills News – Governor Signs Bill to Allow California to Fight Traffic Tickets Before They Have to Pay Them

Posted: Wednesday, September 30, 2015 – 3:24 PM

Gov. Brown today endorsed another traffic-fine proposal by Sen. Bob Hertzberg to help working families, strengthen the economy and increase public safety by making it easier for working Californians to live with skyrocketing costs for minor tickets.

The most recent step came today when Gov. Brown signed Senate Bill 405, which guarantees Californians the right to challenge many routine traffic tickets without having to first pay the contested fines. 

“The system was broken,” Hertzberg said. “Is it reasonable or fair to require the poor to pay a huge fine before getting a hearing? I say no, and I’m grateful the governor agreed. His action helps those who need help the most: Those who want to work.”

Mike Herald of the Western Center for Law and Poverty, sponsor of SB 405, praised the governor’s action.

“By allowing people to have their day in court without having to pay the ticket first, fewer people will get their license suspended and end up in dire straits,” Herald said. “The governor stepped up for the little guy today and for that we applaud him.”

Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, noted that from 2006 to 2013, more than 4 million California residents had their driver’s licenses suspended because they didn’t pay their fines on time, or they didn’t make their payments, or they missed their court date. This has led to a staggering $10 billion in illusory ‘fines’ because the penalties are so ridiculously high most of the fines are never paid.

The governor’s action followed recent adoption in the state budget of Hertzberg proposals that improved Brown’s traffic amnesty program by allowing low-income residents to pay a reduced amount or make payments. This allows them to get their driver’s licenses back so they can drive to work, keep their jobs and get auto insurance.

Hertzberg cited a couple examples of how a mushrooming cloud of fees, fines and assessments is crushing the average worker’s ability to pay enhanced fines.

For example: A ticket for failing to make a full halt at a stop sign starts at $35, but then rounds up to $238 after the extra fees.

“Then, if you can’t pay or miss your court date, the fine doubles,” Hertzberg said. “Imagine average parents making $12 to $20 per hour and suddenly faced with either feeding their kids or paying these out-of-control fines. What would you do?”

Bolstering Hertzberg’s proposal is a recent study that found when a driver’s license was suspended, 42 percent of drivers lost their jobs. Of those, 45 percent were unable to find a new job. Even accounting for those that kept working, 88 percent of people with suspended licenses reported a reduction in their income.

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