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A pair of lawsuits filed by 15 residents of Ferguson and Jennings, Missouri accuse local officials of running a modern-day debtors' prison based on traffic ticket fines. The 15 plaintiffs claim they were forced to endure "grotesque" treatment in local jails, including verbal abuse and unsanitary conditions. They further allege that they were denied access to lawyers and necessary medical treatment.

A 2013 investigation revealed that Ferguson issued 1,500 traffic warrants for every 1,000 citizens. A related report identified 15 states, including California, as jurisdictions that imposed excessive "financial obligations imposed not for any traditional criminal justice purpose such as punishment, deterrence, or rehabilitation but rather to fund tight state budgets," which in turn created "new paths to prison" for thousands of people.

Animosity between the municipal government and its citizens may have fanned racial tensions in the city following the 2014 shooting death of Michael Brown.

An item's hidden and indirect costs are often much higher than the sticker price, and California traffic tickets are in this category.

The Golden State adds a " penalty assessment" of $29 for each $10 of fine, or portion thereof. A $75 fine carries $232 in penalty assessments, not to mention other court costs, such as a night court fee and various county assessment fees. Theoretically designed to deter illegal activity, penalty assessments are essentially tax increases that the legislature did not have to vote on.

With premiums that are 62 percent above the national average, Glendale is the poster child for high auto insurance rates. In a high-risk state like California, the insurance company is lying in wait for an excuse to raise your rates. Many times, just one ticket can send your monthly premiums through the roof.

An attorney regularly practicing in Fresno saves you money by fighting your ticket in court or possibly getting the violation reduced to a lesser charge.

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