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State Traffic Amnesty Program Could Help Cities Recover Portion of Unpaid Traffic Ticket Fines

Program Begins Oct. 1, Runs 18 Months

August 19, 2015
Local agencies could collect additional amounts of unpaid traffic and non-traffic fines under an amnesty program approved recently as part of the state budget.
 
The Judicial Council is scheduled to consider proposed guidelines for the statewide traffic amnesty program passed in the FY 2015-16 state budget act during its meeting Aug. 20-21. These guidelines will give implementation direction for the 18-month program that begins Oct. 1. People with unpaid traffic and non-traffic infraction outstanding tickets will be eligible to pay their fines at significantly reduced rates. Local agencies will recover proportional amounts from funds collected.
 
The state’s prior traffic fine amnesty program was in effect for the first six months of 2012 and generated $14 million through the resolution of more than 42,000 cases. Participants under that program were required to pay 50 percent of the amount owed.
 
The new program, which is set to run Oct. 1, 2015-March 31, 2017, is expected to produce significantly higher revenues, upwards of $150 million, because of the longer timeframe as well as changes in the incentives offered.
 
The amnesty rate of 50 percent will be standard, however, low-income individuals on public assistance can be eligible to pay only 20 percent to eliminate their traffic and non-traffic infraction debt. Participants will also be able to close out their debt through either a lump sum payment or a series of payments. One additional incentive offered under the new guidelines, allows participants to get their driver’s license back upon entering the repayment program (as opposed to upon completion of the payments).
 
The Judicial Council has produced a video about the amnesty program. Additional information is on the Judicial Council’s website at www.courts.ca.gov/trafficamnesty.htm.
 
Since cities will receive a portion of any amounts collected, those cities with significant outstanding uncollected debt may see benefit in sharing information about the program with their residents.


 
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