Traffic Tickets / Infractions Amnesty Program
California Courts Offer Traffic Reprieves
A program that began early October gives California drivers with unpaid traffic tickets a chance to pay them at a discounted rate. Amnesty applies to tickets due on or before January 1, 2013 but tickets due after this time may qualify varying on your county. Along with these ticket reprieves, California courts have also enacted a bill to ease the reinstatement of suspended driver’s licenses. The program allows drivers with ticket infractions to pay their tickets off in installments after qualifying for a 50 or 80 percent discount. The amnesty program is to last until March 31, 2017.
This initiative is set to forgive any “failure to appear” court-order obligations for drivers who failed to pay bail or traffic and non-traffic fines. California Legislature brings to pass Senate Bill 85 (Stats. 2015, ch 26) to also help individuals regain their driving privileges that were suspended under Vehicle Code section 13365. The court hopes to promote existing payment of old debt and through this limit the number of time and money spent on older cases to concentrate on newer litigations. Eligibility for this program includes drivers who either have failed to appear in court or pay in full, owe no victim restitution in the county where the violation was filed, and possess no outstanding misdemeanors or felony warrants in the same county. While this offers many drivers a chance for discounts off a number of different tickets, the amnesty program does not include parking tickets, DUIs, or reckless driving citations. The variable discounts depend upon certain financial factors. Drivers qualify for an 80 percent discount if they are an individual that earns less than $14,712, a part family of four that earns less than $30,312, or someone receiving public assistance. All other eligible participants qualify for a 50% reduction. A driver’s limited ability to pay will allow him a chance to pay off the discounted tickets in installments.
To begin, drivers with outstanding payments should refer to their ticket and contact the superior court in the jurisdiction where it was received. The amnesty process will allow the drivers to apply without seeing a judge.
When will the amnesty program be available?
Start: October 1, 2015
End: March 31, 2017
Who can participate in the amnesty program?
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 date on or before January 1, 2013, who have not made a payment after September 30, 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 September 30, 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 your court for additional information.
Any persons eligible to have a driver’s license, (including undocumented individuals who are eligible for a driver’s license under AB 60) are entitled to participate in the traffic amnesty program if they meet the eligibility requirements.
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.
What if I made a payment after September 30, 2015?
People ineligible due to timing may still have their driver’s license returned, but will not have their fines reduced on tickets with a payment after the deadline.
What tickets will be eligible for amnesty?
Any infraction may qualify for amnesty. Unpaid tickets and related “failure to appear” violations with an initial payment due date on or before January 1, 2013, are eligible.
Individual superior courts and counties may extend this program to include some misdemeanors.
What tickets will not be eligible?
This amnesty program does not apply to parking tickets, reckless driving, and DUI offenses.
How much will I have to pay?
Under the amnesty program, eligible participants will not have to pay any civil assessments. Once the civil assessment amounts are deducted, the remaining balance owed will be reduced by 50 to 80 percent depending on income or receipt of specified public benefits.
The discount will be 80 percent for those who certify that they make 125 percent or less than the federal poverty level — $14,712 for an individual, or $30,312 for a family of four — or who receive public assistance.
The discount will be 50 percent for all other eligible participants.
How do I participate in the amnesty program?
Beginning on October 1, 2015, contact the superior court in the jurisdiction(s) where you received the ticket(s) to determine your eligibility to participate in the amnesty program. People who are eligible for amnesty will have their application processed without seeing a judge.
Will there be a fee to participate?
Courts, counties, and third party collections vendors are permitted to collect an amnesty program fee of $50 payable to the superior court or county. The Department of Motor Vehicles will also charge a $55 driver’s license reinstatement fee as it does for any license reinstatement.
Will there be an installment payment option?
Yes, a payment plan option will be available through the superior court, county, or third party collections vendors and payments scheduled under the plan will be based on the ability to pay.
To contact your local court, please visit: www.courts.ca.gov/trafficamnesty today.
Ruano, Teresa. “Traffic/Infraction Amnesty Program Begins Oct 1.” California Courts, The Judicial Branch of California. 2015 Judicial Council of California, 29 September 2015. Web. 23 Oct. 2015.