State Sen. Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) introduced legislation on Sept. 8 to roll back driver’s license suspensions for Californians who have been unable to pay traffic fines and fees.
SB 237 would apply to approximately 200,000 Californians who did not benefit from a Traffic Amnesty Program that ended in spring and who had their licenses suspended before Gov. Jerry Brown changed the law to prevent the practice in a trailer bill attached to the 2017-18 state budget.
The new law took effect June 27 when the Legislature passed the budget trailer bill. In his budget proposal, Brown noted that there didn’t appear to be a connection between suspending people’s driver’s licenses and collecting fines, yet the suspension could have serious negative consequences such as preventing people from getting to work or taking their children to school.
The legislation comes after the Judicial Council released a report last week showing the success of California’s Traffic Amnesty Program. In 2015, Hertzberg authored SB 405, which, along with a related budget measure from Brown, established the program for traffic offenses prior to 2013. From Oct. 1, 2015 through April 3, Californians with longstanding unpaid traffic fines or fees could talk to a judge to lower the fine and lift the suspensions on their driver’s licenses if they signed up for a payment plan.
The Judicial Council report stated that more than 255,000 Californians had their debts reduced, more than 246,000 received their driver’s licenses back and the court system took in $31.5 million in revenue.
“Amnesty proved the naysayers wrong and showed that many Californians weren’t paying their traffic fines and fees simply because they didn’t have the money to do it, not to thumb their noses at the law,” Hertzberg said.
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