In California, the most populated state in America, there are billions of dollars in unpaid traffic tickets. In many instances, they are simply cases of people just not wanting to pay their fines. However, in perhaps the majority of cases, tickets go unpaid because offenders do not have the resources to pay the steep fines. The cost attached to running a red light is upwards of $400, a lot by the standards of the average American. If the fine portion of the penalty weren’t bad enough, what happens if you do not pay the ticket is arguably even worse—suspension of license.
There are number of people who could easily argue that traffic violations, the fines and what happens if you are unable to recompense are unfair. People who get tickets often must choose between paying their monthly bills or what they owe in fines. Most people are likely to opt for putting food on the table and a roof over their family’s head before they pony up and meet the state or counties demands.
Traffic Fines Based On Income
A new bill has been introduced that could mean a major break for certain traffic offenders who are on the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum. State Sen. Robert Hertzberg introduced SB 185, if passed it would prevent the automatic suspension of a driver’s license for people who are unable to pay their traffic fines, NBC 7 reports. As opposed to an automatic suspension for unpaid traffic fines, the courts would be able to look at an offender’s income; if it is deemed that you do not make enough income, then the court would put you on a payment plan or reduce the amount of the fine to something fair.
“The red light ticket right now, the minimum price right now is $490,” said Mitch Mehdy, a traffic attorney. “You can’t spend half your paycheck on a red light ticket.”
It is worth noting that the offenders whose income-based factors deem them eligible for a break, do not meet the requirements laid out by the court, they will in the end lose their license. Additionally, this is not a sliding scale system—people who are in higher income brackets will not receive more substantial fines.
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Unintended Consequences of High Traffic Fines
As it stands right now, people who can’t afford to pay their traffic fines resulting in a loss of license are forced to make a choice. Take the bus or get a ride to work, and naturally either option will not help for some people who work far from their home. Many will make the choice to risk driving with a suspended driver’s license, because they can’t afford to lose their job. A significant number of such people will get caught bringing with it more fines and their vehicle will be impounded for 30 days. A problem which can go from bad to exponentially worse in the blink of an eye.
If you are experiencing such circumstances, or believe that your license or vehicle was suspended or impounded unjustly, please contact the Law Office of Ronald G. Brower.