The action to change the automatic license suspension program in courts like Bakersfield and Lamont continues to move forward, but no trial date has been set.
The judge held a case management conference at the end of December 2016, and the forthcoming orders should include a discovery schedule, possibly a mediation order, and maybe a future trial date. In this lawsuit, the American Civil Liberties Union says the automatic license suspension provision violated the state and federal constitutions, because it effectively means that people who cannot pay their traffic ticket fines cannot drive. A related provision says that the DMV may suspend licenses based on a “willful” failure to pay, and according to the lawsuit, “A failure to pay cannot be willful if the person did not, in fact, have the ability to pay.”
In the previous legislative session, a similar measure failed because local governments feared the resulting steep revenue loss.
Drivers’ License Suspension
There are two provisions at issue in this lawsuit. VC 40508 says the drivers who “willfully” fail to pay their traffic tickets can have their licenses suspended under VC 13365, the controversial mandatory license suspension provision.
The Vehicle Code does not define “willful,” but the word usually connotes a knowledge that the fine or tax or whatever is due but an unwillingness to pay it due to economic constraints. The oft-cited statistic is that about half of Americans cannot afford to pay a $400 emergency expense. But that figure is misleading, because if push comes to shove, most people can swallow their pride and borrow from friends or relatives. In other words, there’s a very fuzzy line between unable to pay and unwilling to pay.
Fortunately, fuzzy lines are the domain of criminal defense lawyers. In many cases, a local traffic attorney can get a suspended license reinstated in a few days, get the case back on the docket, and use all available defenses to reduce the fine to an amount you can afford or get the case dismissed.
Getting Legal Help
The aggressive attorneys at Bigger & Harman, APC, are committed to giving individuals a voice when dealing with speeding and traffic tickets. Call today at 661-349-9300 or email email@example.com to receive the personal professional attention you deserve. En español, llame al 661-349-9755.
Despite repeated attempts to change it, the automatic license suspension provision remains in effect in Bakersfield. To get your license back, call Bigger & Harman.