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Another Ticket Amnesty Program?

Some Californians may soon be eligible for another traffic ticket amnesty program.

Local Assemblyman Steve Fox (D-Palmdale) introduced a bill that would let residents pay only 50% of the outstanding balance on fines for misdemeanor violations, and the state would not press additional charges for failing to appear. In March 2014, the amnesty bill unanimously passed the Public Safety Committee and now heads to the Assembly floor for further consideration.

Assemblyman Fox also represents California City, Rosamond, Mojave and some other parts of Kern County.

These programs are designed to raise money and clear court dockets, and not necessarily to give the "little guy" a break. The previous amnesty program produced very mixed results, in terms of both those goals. Large counties, such as Los Angeles County, experienced a financial windfall. Smaller counties, such as Lake County, cleared many fewer tickets and saw little monetary return (in some cases, these jurisdictions actually lost money). Expect this latest bill to pass the Assembly, where larger counties have more votes. But, in the upper house, where every county has an equal voice, a ticket amnesty program may find much tougher sledding.

Waiting for financial relief from a cash-strapped state is never a very good idea. If you have unresolved traffic tickets, you are just a burned-out taillight away from jail time and huge fines. Let an attorney practicing in Bakersfield be your advocate; if you have never appeared in court, a lawyer can oftentimes get the fines reduced or even completely dismissed so you can clear up your license and drive legally again.