Getting a traffic ticket can be expensive. Failing to pay the ticket can lead to getting your driver’s license suspended and even more fines for not paying the original fine or failing to appear in court. Many have found themselves in a downward spiral of getting a ticket, not having the money to pay the fine and then losing their driver’s license. This can lead to a loss of employment because they can’t get to work and make a difficult financial situation even worse.
But there is relief in sight. Starting October 1, 2015, California Vehicle Code §42008.8 (which went into effect August 18, 2015) will allow a person to reinstate his or her driver’s license if it has been suspended for failure to pay traffic fines and/or failure to appear in court. In order to be eligible, the individual must enter into a payment plan for the outstanding fines. Individuals who apply for the amnesty program are also eligible to have their outstanding fines reduced by 50%. If the individual qualifies as low-income, the fines could be reduced up to 80%.
In addition, civil assessments for the failure to pay fines, or appear in court, are waived. This can make a significant reduction in the total amount owed.
According to the California Courts Website, there are two groups of people who can participate in the amnesty program:
- Persons with unpaid tickets whose fines were originally due to be paid on or before January 1, 2013, who have not made a payment after June 24, 2015, may be eligible to have both their debt reduced by 50 or 80 percent, depending on income and their driver’s license reinstated, unless an exclusion discussed below applies.
- Persons who made a payment after June 24, 2015, on a ticket are not eligible for a reduction for that ticket but may be eligible to have their driver’s license reinstated if they are in good standing on a payment plan with a comprehensive collection program.
- Persons with more than one ticket may not be eligible for a reduction on an individual ticket if the eligibility criteria are not satisfied for the ticket. Please check with the court in which the ticket was issued for additional information.
Who cannot participate in the amnesty program?
Eligible persons may be excluded from the amnesty program if they owe victim restitution on a case or have certain outstanding misdemeanor or felony warrants. Reckless driving, and parking tickets are not included.
This program runs from October 1, 2015, through March 31, 2017. For more information, go to www.courts.ca.gov/trafficamnesty.htm.