In a move that could possibly mean more traffic ticket reform in Lamont and Shafter, Governor Brown recently signed a measure that makes more people eligible for payment plans on parking ticket fines.
Prior law only permitted payment plans for violators who appealed their citations. But Assembly Bill 1151 significantly expands that right. Los Angeles Miguel Santiago, who sponsored the bill, said it would “help people in my [downtown] community to be responsible and pay their tickets, while helping them to be able to make their bills.” The new budget also includes an 18-month ticket amnesty. People with unpaid tickets issued since January 1, 2013, may be eligible to have their fines reduced and/or their drivers’ licenses reinstated.
Governor Brown also signed legislation that allows beer-tasting events at certain farmers’ markets and designates Spanish moss as The Golden State’s official lichen.
Parking ticket payouts and a partial amnesty are certainly welcome changes, but they don’t amount to more than a few strips of duct tape on the broken penalty assessment system.
One of the most notorious add-ons in the United States, penalty assessments crossed over from rational supplements of traffic ticket fines to outright revenue-generating devices many years ago. The current formula - $29 for every $10 in fines, or portion thereof – is the main reason that the actual cost of a traffic ticket in Bakersfield is about 20 times the fine, when considering direct and indirect add-ons.
But change will come about slowly, if at all: although Governor Brown blasted penalty assessments earlier this year, he did nothing to change the system in any meaningful way.