Two key State Senate lawmakers are asking for a “more rational fee structure” as opposed to the high penalty assessments that are part of all traffic tickets in Mono County.
Public Safety Committee chair Lori Hancock and President Pro Tem Kevin sent the letter to the Judicial Council, largely in the wake of a series of L.A. Times editorials on penalty assessments. “A simple traffic fine should not economically devastate the many families living paycheck to paycheck,” the pair insisted.
Four years ago, Senator de Leon engineered the go-nowhere Judicial Council’s Debt-Ordered Task Force, which was supposedly designed to reduce excessive ticket add-ons in California.
These add-ons grew slowly but steadily from the time they were introduced in the 1950s up until the early 2000s. Then, from about 2002 until 2011, penalty assessments basically mushroomed.
Some of these fees were at least arguably designed to punish traffic ticket offenders, but many went to fund such projects as DNA testing, emergency medical services, courthouse security and courthouse construction. At roughly the same time, the state passed the infamous 20 percent “surcharge” in 2002, and this money went directly into the General Fund.
The Legislature figured out that tax increases are unpopular, and penalty assessments basically took their place. As a result, the formula expanded from $17 for every $10 in fines to $29 for every $10. The added fees do not include higher insurance rates and court costs.
As a rule of thumb, the actual cost of a traffic ticket in Mammoth Lakes or Ridgecrest is about 20 times the fine. So, a $25 fine will cost about $500, after calculating penalty assessments and all other secondary costs.
Getting Legal Help
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