SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The state has eliminated all late traffic fines and dropped the price of existing fees for all Californians.
"We punish people extravagantly for traffic violations," said Rio Scharf, an attorney for the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights. "Not just with fines, but also with a ton of mandatory fees." AB 199 - California Assembly (20212022) - Open States
Assembly Bill 199 aims to cut down costs - eliminating all traffic late fees imposed before July 1.
Prior to July, this was a $300 late fee imposed against nearly anybody who missed a deadline, no matter how small or large their traffic offense was.
To put this in perspective, someone cited for J-walking faces a $35 fine but when you add up all the mandatory court fees, your balance comes out to around $297. If you missed the deadline, the courts would add a $300 civil assessment on top of that $297 more than doubling your balance.
Starting July 1, instead of a $300 fee, any late traffic fee will be capped at $100. But Scharf, says not all courts have adjusted to the new rules and in some cases are misinforming defendants. For example, he says Sonoma and Marin County Superior Courts are still advertising $300 late fees.
"The law has been in effect for over a month now, so it's beyond time that these courts become in compliance and stop collecting monies that they are no longer owed," said Scharf.
Assemblyman Phil Ting says prior to AB199, civil assessment fees were extracting around $100 million from California courts - mainly impacting low-income families who struggled the most to pay ticket debt.
"Unfortunately for too long, our courts have been relying on low-income individuals paying civil assessments to fund many of their operations. So, what this does is really ensure we reduce that burden on the lowest income people in our state," said Ting.
This law has eliminated more than $500 million of late fee debt.
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