By Miriam Raftery
September 30, 2015 (Sacramento) – If you’re a California driver with an overdue traffic ticket fine, you may be eligible for a limited amnesty program starting this week under Senate Bill 85, which was signed into law by Governor Brown.
Under the program, all fines due on or before January 1, 2013 will be reduced by 50 to 80 percent. In addition, all penalties added for late fees will be cancelled. You can also make payments to pay off the balance, based on your income. In addition, if you lost your license for failing to pay a fine or appear in court, you can apply to get your license restored.
The amnesty program starts October 1st of this year and runs through March 2017. It covers most moving violations including speeding, stop sign and red light violations. It also includes some non-traffic violations such as littering, trespassing and loitering.
You cannot get amnesty for driving under the influence or reckless driving, and certain other major vehicle code violations. The amnesty is also not available for violations of local ordinances.
To apply, contact the Superior Court in the jurisdiction where your ticket was issued. (See www.courts.ca.gov/find-my-court.htm.)
The Court can charge a $50 fee. In addition, the Department of Motor Vehicles will levy a $55 fee to reinstate a driver’s license.
California has drawn sharp criticism for hefty fines and add-on fees that in some cases amount to quadruple the original fines. Consumer and civil rights groups have argued that this is discriminatory toward minorities and the poor. Losing a driver’s license also can cost drivers their jobs if they can’t afford to pay the fines. Out of 4.73 million Californians with licenses suspended by courts for failure to pay or show up in court, only 82,000 have been reinstated.
An amnesty program not only helps drivers get back on their feet and have a second chance, but also puts money in the state’s treasury. An earlier amnesty program in 2012 brought in $12.3 million dollars.