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Good Luck With That

Another California lawmaker has proposed another ticket amnesty program. This one is targeted at drivers in Bakersfield who have lost their licenses, or had them suspended, due to unpaid citations and other fees.

State Senator Bob Hertzberg, recently introduced Senate Bill 405. The measure is a bit thin on specifics, but it basically resurrects the 50 percent 2012 amnesty program, extends it until 2018 and restricts eligibility to motorists "whose driver's license was suspended for failure to appear in court or failure to pay a fine or bail." The proposal also requires the state to "reimburse" counties for the expenses they incur.

But the introduction of this bill raises another issue: If politicians realize that many people need help paying off their fines, why does California still have one of the highest traffic fines in the nation? Perhaps the fines should be lower for everyone instead of attempting to allow one segment of the population to only pay half.

S.B. 405 is currently pending in the Rules Committee.

With its skeletal provisions and questionable funding source, this bill is be dead in the water, unless Sen. Hertzberg gives it a complete makeover. Even if it does pass, the law would give very little relief. If a driver had trouble coming up with $1,500 upfront to reinstate a license, $750 may be equally unattainable.

Ticket amnesties don't work, with their limited eligibility and red tape. In addition, they don't address the underlying issue: the penalty assessments and cost add-ons were excessive in the first place.

In most cases, if you have unpaid traffic tickets, an attorney regularly practicing in places like Delano and Bakersfield can get the warrants lifted and get the cases back on the docket. An attorney then serves as your advocate in front of the prosecutor and judge. It is not unusual to have the fine and/or points reduced, have add-on charges and penalties dismissed and perhaps even have the underlying ticket thrown out.