The Press Democrat

Sonoma County court officials favor traffic fine relief

June 12, 2017

By Paul Payne

It all started with a drunken-driving arrest. Then there was the ticket for getting behind the wheel with a suspended license.

Soon, Tyler Watson of Sebastopol had unpaid fines totaling thousands of dollars — and no hope of ever getting his license back.

So this week, Watson, 38, walked into Sonoma County traffic court asking for help. The judge offered him a payment plan but warned he must stay off the road until his debt is settled.

“The system takes hold of you and squeezes you until all the lifeblood is out of you,” said Watson, a professional tree trimmer, as he left court. “It’s not right.”

Some lawmakers and the state’s chief justice, Tani Cantil-Sakauye, agree.

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