California Governor Jerry Brown recently criticized the increasing "penalty
assessments" added on to traffic tickets in Kern County.
In response to the ongoing budget crisis, the state has drastically raised
the court costs on speeding tickets. A $300 speeding ticket fine may now
include double that amount in penalty assessments and costs. While he
agreed with the overall plan, Governor Brown
cautioned that there is a point at which the plan backfires, because it becomes
cheaper for defendants to spend a day or two in jail rather than pay an
exorbitant fine and assessments.
California is not alone: other states facing cash shortfalls have turned
to penalty assessments and other nontraditional revenue streams.
In addition to a flat fee, similar to a civil filing fee, California law
penalty assessments for all traffic ticket fines in Lamont and Shafter. The formula is rather
complicated, with different monies being earmarked for different purposes.
Suffice it to say that the penalty assessments drastically increase the
actual amount of money you have to pay to settle a traffic ticket in Tulare County.
Speeding tickets have always been just as much about revenue production
as they have been about highway safety. Governor Brown was not indicting
the system so much as he was warning officials not to strangle the goose
that lays golden eggs: if an unemployed person has a choice between two
days in jail or a $700 fine, the jail time becomes an attractive option
and the state actually loses money on the deal, due to the incarceration costs.
You can count on an attorney practicing in Bakersfield to lower the fine
you are ordered to pay, and perhaps reduce the points as well.