A California man says he's being "fleeced" by the Curry County court.
Thaddeus Forsythe, of Simi Valley, also called the traffic fine and dispute
resolution system a "racket." This past August, Mr. Forsythe
was ticketed for running a stop sign. He claims he is not guilty, but
if he does not want to pay the $71 fine, he must pay $600 for round-trip
airfare to fight the ticket in court. Citing procedural rules and Constitutional
prohibitions, the judge refused to discuss the case with Mr. Forsythe
and refused to hold a trial by telephone.
If he does not show up for the trial, a warrant will be issued for his
arrest and the DMV will not allow him to renew his license.
Some California residents may express similar opinions about penalty assessments.
Defendants have been required to pay a few dollars in court costs, along
with a fine, for about as long as there have been courts, but these costs
dramatically increased in the late 1990s.
The current formula in Kern County is $29 per every $10 in fines, or portion
thereof. For example, an $85 ticket carries $261 ($29 x 9) in penalty
assessments. Local governments are also allowed to tack on court costs.
Clerk's fees, night court fees, building funds, judicial retirement
funds and record storage fees are just a few examples. Los Angeles County
charges about $150 in court costs, plus a 20 percent "criminal surcharge
fee" in some cases. So, in L.A., that $85 ticket costs about $400.
There are also indirect costs associate with traffic tickets. If they
do not have an attorney, many people must take several days off from work
to be in court. The points assessed against your license can drive up
your auto insurance rates and even cause your license to be suspended.
There are significant costs associated with missing a court date, higher
insurance premiums and license reinstatement fees.
An attorney regularly practicing in Fresno can help you avoid some or
all of these costs, by getting the fine and/or the points eliminated or reduced.