Measure to reduce traffic fines passes first policy review by Senate Public Safety panel

SB 405 by Sen. Bob Hertzberg seeks to undo ‘criminalizing the poor’

April 28, 2015

SACRAMENTO – A plan by Sen. Bob Hertzberg to improve the ability of the working poor to reach their jobs today passed its first public review by the Senate Committee on Public Safety.

“We are criminalizing the poor and dramatically impacting their lives with punishments that far exceed their crimes by slamming them with excessive fines,” Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, said shortly before the unanimous, bipartisan vote in support of Senate Bill 405. “Then we take away their ability to get to work. We need to fix,”

Hertzberg added that his plan is a reasonable way for working-class people to get their driving privileges restored and compliments the governor’s proposed Traffic Amnesty Program. The governor’s proposal seeks to improve court-ordered debt collection and aims to recover at least some of the estimated $10 billion in uncollected, court-ordered debt.

Joining Hertzberg in presenting SB 405 were representatives for the Western Center for Law and Poverty (WCLP), sponsor of the bill, as well as some of the 4.2 million California residents who have had their licenses revoked because of non-payment of fines. Virtually all their fines have far exceeded the original amounts because of various added-on fees, penalties and other mandatory payments.

Cosponsoring SB 405 is the New Way of Life Reentry Project, the East Bay Community Law Center and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Legal Services for Prisoners with Children.

Supporting SB 405, titled Driving Down Debt, are numerous law enforcement and community groups. These include: The American Friends Service Committee; the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs; the Association of Deputy District Attorneys; Bay Area Community Services; California Association of Highway Patrolmen; California Association of Code Enforcement Officers; California Catholic Conference; California College and University Police Chiefs Association; California Commission on Access to Justice; California In-Home Supportive Services Consumer Alliance; California Narcotic Officers Association; California Partnership; California Reserve Peace Officers Association; Courage Campaign; Drug Policy Alliance; Ella Baker Center for Human Rights; Los Angeles Community Action Network; the Personal Insurance Federation of California; Los Angeles County Probation Officers Union, AFSCME Local 685; Los Angeles Police Protective League; Oakland Community Organizations, (a group of 70 congregations and schools); People Improving Communities through Organizing California; Rubicon Programs; San Mateo County Supervisor Warren Slocum; St. Mary’s Center; and the Western Regional Advocacy Project.


  • Watch, listen to Sen. Hertberg present SB 405 to the Senate Committee on Public Safety HERE:
  • Read an April 27, 2015 editorial on SB 405 by the Sacramento Bee  titled “Time to put the brakes on add-on fees for minor traffic citations,” HERE:
  • Read an April 15, 2015 story on the issue in the Sacramento Bee HERE:
  • Read an April 14, 2015 story on the issue in the New York Times HERE:
  • Read an April 8, 2015 Press Release on the introduction of SB 405 HERE:
  • Read an April 8, 2015 story by the Los Angeles Times on SB 405 HERE:
  • Listen to Sen. Hertzberg talk about why SB 405 is needed by clicking HERE:
  • Read the bill language for SB 450 HERE:

For more, including a Fact Sheet on SB 405, HERE or visit Hertzberg’s Web site at the address below.

Bob Hertzberg, chair of the Senate Committee on Governance and Finance, represents nearly 1 million San Fernando Valley residents of Senate District 18, which includes part of Burbank and the following communities in Los Angeles: Arleta, Granada Hills, Hansen Dam, Lake View Terrace, Mission Hills, North Hills, North Hollywood, part of Northridge, Pacoima, Panorama City, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, part of Sun Valley, Sylmar, Toluca Lake, Valley Glen, Valley Village, Van Nuys, the City of San Fernando and Universal City. See a district map HERE or at  After serving in the Assembly from 1996-2002, including two years as Speaker, Hertzberg built an international renewable energy business; invested in solar, wind and electric-car projects; and worked for structural changes in government through two civic groups: California Forward and the Think Long Committee of California. More HERE or at

Communications Director
Sen. Bob Hertzberg, Senate District 18
Capitol Building, Room 4038
Sacramento, Calif. 95814
(916) 651-4018 office; 916 834-1128 cell; or