CSAC Bulletin Article

Traffic Amnesty Program Ends April 3

March 30, 2017

The 18-month Traffic Ticket/Infraction Amnesty Program that began October 1, 2015, designed to provide relief to individuals from the increasing costs of fines, fees, penalties, and assessments that were incurred from unpaid traffic and non-traffic tickets, will end April 3.

According to the Judicial Council, since the program’s launch county court and collection agencies have reported the following numbers:

  • 205,686 delinquent accounts have been reduced
  • 192,452 driver’s licenses have been reinstated
  • $35,530,680 has been collected

Court and county collections programs provided quarterly updates to the Judicial Council throughout the time frame of the program. All program quarterly reports are available here. A final report on the outcomes of the amnesty program will be submitted by the Judicial Council to the Legislature on or before August 31 and will be posted on the Council’s website. 

While the traffic Amnesty Program is concluding, that is not the end to reforms in the fines and fees area.  The Governor’s January budget proposes to eliminate the ability for the courts or counties to request a license suspension on failure to pay fines and fees for traffic violations. 

In addition, there are several measures working their way through the Legislature that impact fine and fee collections.  SB 185 by Senator Bob Hertzberg prohibits license suspensions for failure to pay or appear in court for minor traffic tickets. Specifically, SB 185 would require courts to reinstate suspended licenses for anyone making a good-faith effort to meet their obligations.

Additionally, this measure would require courts to: provide affordable payment plans, assess an individual’s ability to pay, reduce the total amount owed by low-income individuals, change payment plans according to an individual’s changing economic circumstances and eliminate debt after 4 years for low-income individuals who have exhibited a continuous inability to pay.  

CSAC has serious concerns with the approach of SB 185, which does not address the complexity of the current collections system, but instead takes away a tool the courts and county collection agencies use to collect the fines and fees they are mandated by law to collect. SB 185 is set to be heard in the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee on April 4th.

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