Getting a ticket in the Golden State may prove more costly than gold. With more than 4 million California residents stuck with suspended licenses because of unpaid traffic tickets, the state's traffic citation system has come under increased scrutiny, reports UK’s Daily Mail.
Casey Campbell, an Iraq War veteran, is a classic case. After receiving a $25 ticket, Campbell saw the cost of his ticket jump when he could not pay, and the amount due increased even further when he missed his court date because he could not pay a fine to appear. Soon enough that $25 ticket turned into a $4,000 fine. Unable to pay, Campbell’s license was suspended and then when he tried to drive to work, his car was impounded. Campbell, who served two tours in Iraq, quickly ended up homeless, reports Daily Mail.
“It’s all about the money. That’s the only way I can put it. It’s all about the money,” Campbell told Fox News.
Many critics claim California's system unfairly targets low-income residents and minorities by placing absurd fees on citations, leaving them in a “hellhole of desperation,” according to Governor Jerry Brown, as quoted in the Daily Mail.
Sen. Bob Hertzberg of the San Fernando Valley explained the situation to LA Weekly, “Added-on fees have led to outrageous fines that working people simply can’t afford. Most of these fines are never paid, which is why there’s $10 billion in unpaid fees.”
Improvements are already under way, however. Just a few weeks ago, at the start of June, California’s Judicial Council unanimously passed a rule that allows drivers to enter court and challenge their citations without having to first pay a fine to enter, reports Daily Mail.
Additionally, in May, Gov. Brown proposed a traffic amnesty program to stop the for-profit traffic system.
Hertzberg, who had several proposals integrated into Gov. Brown’s program, told LA Weekly, “We will now be creating both a fairer system and a more efficient one by distinguishing between the unwilling to pay and those unable to pay.”
Gov. Brown’s program, which will last 18-months, will go into effect Oct. 1, according to LA Weekly.
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