Un­paid fines won’t re­sult in sus­pen­sion

Lodi News-Sentinel - - Page Two - By Sophia Bol­lag

SACRA­MENTO — Cal­i­for­ni­ans will no longer face los­ing their driver’s li­censes be­cause of un­paid traf­fic fines start­ing next month.

Gov. Jerry Brown said the pun­ish­ment doesn’t help the state col­lect un­paid fines and can send low-in­come peo­ple into a cy­cle of job losses and more poverty.

The pol­icy will help en­sure peo­ple’s lives are not de­railed by traf­fic tick­ets, said Sen. Bob Hertzberg, a Van Nuys Demo­crat who has cham­pi­oned the is­sue in the Leg­is­la­ture.

Brown, a Demo­crat, ap­proved the pro­vi­sion as part of a se­ries of bills he signed Tues­day to en­act the state bud­get. It will pre­vent courts from sus­pend­ing some­one’s driver’s li­cense sim­ply be­cause of un­paid fines.

Brown called for end­ing the prac­tice in his Jan­uary bud­get pro­posal, say­ing “there does not ap­pear to be a strong con­nec­tion” be­tween the li­cense sus­pen­sions and col­lect­ing.

“Of­ten, the pri­mary con­se­quence of a driver’s li­cense sus­pen­sion is the in­abil­ity to legally drive to work or take one’s chil­dren to school,” the Demo­cratic gover­nor wrote.

In March, about 488,000 peo­ple had sus­pended driver’s li­censes for un­paid traf­fic tick­ets or miss­ing court ap­pear­ances, ac­cord­ing to data from the Cal­i­for­nia Depart­ment of Mo­tor Ve­hi­cles.

The new law will not ap­ply retroac­tively to peo­ple whose li­censes are al­ready sus­pended for fail­ing to pay fines, said DMV spokesman Artemio Ar­menta.

Op­po­nents of the pol­icy have ar­gued driver’s li­cense sus­pen­sion is a use­ful tool to com­pel peo­ple to pay traf­fic fines.

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