A new report suggests broad-reaching policy changes are necessary to assist poor workers unable to pay increasingly expensive traffic fines and other minor tickets.
April 8, 2015
Link to story
Organizations mentioned/involved: Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area (LCCR)
In California, 4.2 million residents have had their licenses suspended during the past eight years, because they haven’t been able to pay their tickets for traffic violations or minor infractions such as loitering, according to a new report from the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights (LCCR) of the San Francisco Bay Area, a civil legal aid organization. The problem for poor workers, the group notes, is that without a driver’s license, many are let go from their jobs, making it even harder to settle their fines.
The report’s publication comes amid growing awareness of how some police departments and municipal courts are looking to citizens to buoy up coffers through increased ticketing.
In California, fines for traffic tickets have skyrocketed during recent years, thanks to add-on fees like a “night court assessment” and “EMS fund.” That means a $100 ticket can end up actually costing $479, the Lawyers’ Committee Report noted.
“Time and again, clients were coming to us with suspended driver’s licenses, and no way of getting them reinstated, short of a full lump-sum payment of thousands of dollars,” said Meredith Desautels, staff attorney in the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights’ racial justice department. “At this point in time, it’s a crisis for the folks that are trying to work and support families.”Tags: Disaster, Driver's license suspension