Three years ago, the Golden State ran an after-Christmas special for shoppers
who wanted to pay delinquent traffic ticket fines. It was the third ticket
amnesty program in a decade, and it looked like it may be the last one
as well. But recent events in Ferguson may give officials a reason to
think about another amnesty program.
High fines and a revenue-first policy may have made the strained relationship
between the police force and the community even tenser. Even if it doesn't
produce the desired revenue, an amnesty program gives the appearance that
the state is trying to reach out to lower and middle income families who
may not be able to afford the high penalty assessments that come with
California traffic tickets.
The Old Program
2012 ticket amnesty reduced some fines by 50 percent, if the ticket was at least three years
old and was not for DUI or reckless driving. Most counties also chose
to limit the program to infractions, while excluding more serious violations,
like driving with a suspended license. Some counties saw a
virtual windfall in large counties, like Kern County, while others barely made money at
all, after paying the additional overtime, changing Web payment portals,
extending office hours and paying other overhead.
The New Program?
If there is to be a new program in Tulare County, the state may launch
one site for delinquent payments, and process everything though the same
payment portal. Such a move may maximize the return in smaller counties.
The state may also reduce the amount of time to reduce the overhead -
instead of six months, make it three months.
OTHER LEGAL OPTIONS
Many people are unaware that if they did not fight the ticket in court
or make any payments, they still have the option to hire an attorney to
fight the violation and possibly avoid all fines.