Today, more than at any time, California has an opportunity to continue its leadership in building a fair society. So far, it has missed the mark on an issue that significantly affects more than 4 million residents: traffic fines and fees.
California has among the highest traffic fines and fees in the country – and the steepest consequences for traffic violations are reserved for those who can’t afford the fines and fees. This results in crippling debt for the least fortunate Californians, from whom traffic courts have difficulty collecting any fees at all.
According to the Federal Reserve, nearly half of American households cannot afford $400 in unexpected costs. Yet in California, if a family misses a payment on a traffic fine, they can be slapped with a $300 late fee, raising the cost to as much as $500 for a ticket. That can be followed by a suspended driver’s license or jail time, even for non-safety related violations, such as late registration. Of course, this makes it less likely they can pay the fines.