New California Law For Traffic Fines

Governor Brown just signed new legislation providing relief for traffic fines in California. The law is operative beginning October 1, 2015 and runs through March 31, 2017.  The goal is to help those who receive a traffic ticket from facing not only large fines, but assessments as well. For example, if you receive a$100 ticket, you may discover the actual cost is closer to $500 after you pay the fees and assessments, etc. This is also the case because if an individual does not appear in court or fails to make payments on his/her ticket, an additional $300 is added.

Although Judges have the discretion to reduce or waive payment of bail, fines, penalties, fees &/or a civil assessment, the previous law required advance payment in order to schedule a court appearance in front of a Judge to request the Court vacate the civil assessment or reduce fines, penalties, etc. Now,  the payment of the assessment is not required before one can schedule a court hearing on his or her pending traffic infraction.

Lastly, the new law establishes a one-time amnesty program allowing for the payment of 50% of unpaid bail, fines or assessments (certain individuals receiving public benefits may only be required to pay 20%). In some cases, one can apply for installment payments for their outstanding traffic tickets. In addition, the DMV cannot deny reinstating the driving privilege of anyone who participates in this amnesty program, as long as there are no outstanding serious misdemeanor infractions such as drunk driving and/or felony warrants and the individual does not owe victim restitution on any case within the county.

Hence, anyone making payments on their traffic fines, no matter when they received their citation, can get their license back immediately. Nearly five (5) million drivers in California had their drivers’ licenses suspended in the past approximate nine years. Moreover, no criminal action can be filed against anyone if he or she is delinquent regarding a fine or bail under this amnesty program (it has been estimated there currently is approximately $10 billion in uncollected fines owed).

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