KQED

Bill Would Require State Courts to Decide Traffic Amnesty Claims Within 90 Days

September 8, 2016

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A bill that would have allowed potentially millions of low-income Californians with traffic debt to regain or keep a valid driver’s license has been scaled back significantly to focus instead on expediting the state’s temporary traffic amnesty program.

Gov. Jerry Brown has characterized the traffic court system as a “hellhole of desperation” for the poor. In California and other states, the courts use license suspensions as a way to pressure drivers to pay for tickets and related court fees, which can snowball into hundreds of dollars for minor infractions such as driving with a broken taillight or alone in a carpool lane.

The bill that the Legislature sent to Brown last week focuses on expediting how the state’s temporary traffic amnesty program works, by requiring courts to decide amnesty claims within 90 days, and to process all claims filed by March 31, 2017, when that program ends.

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