Thumbs up: A ticket out of legal trouble

The Press Democrat


How does a $20 traffic ticket turn into a $160 fine? In California, citations come with a long list of fees and surcharges on top of the penalty for the underlying offense. Miss the deadline to pay and the actual cost of that $20 ticket can quickly climb to $500 or more, plus a license suspension. Between 2006 and 2013, more than 4 million people — one in six California adults — had their licenses suspended for failing to pay a traffic ticket on time.

Courts: California traffic amnesty program helped thousands

SAN FRANCISCO — State authorities reported Tuesday that tens of thousands of California drivers have had traffic fines and court fees reduced under an amnesty program pushed by Gov. Jerry Brown to help the poor.

More than 58,000 drivers benefited from cost reductions in the first three months of the 18-month program that started in October, according to the Judicial Council of California, the policymaking branch of the state court system.

The council estimates there are at least 3.3 million traffic tickets eligible for amnesty with tickets valued at $2.8 billion before any reductions. The council reports about 612,000 drivers currently have suspended licenses for failure to appear or failure to pay traffic tickets.

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CHP has new traffic laws on the book for 2016, 2017

by Mike Black,

EUREKA, Calif. –

The California Department of Motor Vehicles and California Highway Patrol are reminding the public of the new laws and changes in current laws that are going into effect in 2016 and 2017.

There will be a new message on the electronic boards along the freeway  “Silver Alert.” The alert, which starts in 2016, pertains to seniors or individuals with disabilities who go missing in a car.

According to the California Highway Patrol, they will now be able to broadcast the information to the public using the changeable signs. While this may be a small change, officers said it will make a big difference.

Additionally, there will also be a new “Yellow Alert” sign on those same message boards come January to notify drivers of hit-and-run crashes that result in death or serious injury.

Furthermore, there will be new laws regarding hoverboards, which have already garnered a lot of attention this holiday season.

Beginning January 2016, you will only be able to ride hoverboard on roadways with a speed limit of 35 miles per hour or less, or on designated bikeways.

You must also be at least 16-years-old to ride a hoverboard and wear a helmet at all times. The hoverboard must be equipped with reflectors and lights if you are riding at night.

Child safety seats will also be affected by the new laws.

According to CHP, all children will be required to sit in a rear-facing car seat until they are two-years-old. This law will be enforced in January 2017 to accommodate manufacturers in making car seats suitable for bigger children.

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By staff

As the new year approaches, here are some of the new California laws that are set to take effect in 2016:

  • SB 491 will make it illegal to wear earbuds or headsets in both ears while driving a vehicle or riding a bicycle.



  • The state’s emergency alert system, typically used as Amber Alerts in child-abduction cases, will be used to broadcast a “Yellow Alert” to find hit-and-run drivers in incidents that result in death or major injuries. AB 8 written by Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Glendale) takes effect on Jan. 1, 2016.


  • SB 61 grants a one-year extension to a pilot project in Los Angeles County aimed at curtailing drunken driving through use of ignition interlock devices that test the sobriety of drivers. Drivers must blow into the devices in order to start their vehicles. If their blood-alcohol concentration exceeds a certain level, the vehicles won’t start.


  • The hotly contested SB 277 will take effect on July 1, 2016 and will impose one of the strictest vaccination laws in the country. The bill, sponsored by Democratic Sens. Richard Pan of Sacramento and Ben Allen of Santa Monica, will only allow children with serious health problems to opt out of school-mandated vaccinations. School-age children who remain unvaccinated will need to be home-schooled.



  • AB 775, otherwise known as the Reproductive FACT Act, will require pregnancy clinics to hand out or plainly post information about where women can obtain low-cost contraceptives, prenatal care and abortions. The bill, which was sponsored by Attorney General Kamala Harris, takes effect Jan. 1, 2016.


  • The law requiring slow-moving passenger vehicles to pull over safely to let traffic pass has been amended to apply to all vehicles. AB 208 will now also apply to bicycles.

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Traffic Ticket Amnesty Alert

Tracey Petersen, MML News Reporter

Sacramento, CA – California’s Attorney General Kamala Harris is warning the public about issues over the state’s new traffic fine amnesty program due to debt collectors.

On Wednesday, Harris issued a consumer alert in response to complaints about debt collectors misleading people about paying the fines. Surprisingly, some of the collectors are actually working with counties to recover fine payments. Harris reports that problems most often stem from representatives either failing to notify those they contact to collect fines about California’s debt amnesty program — or telling people who are eligible for the program that they do not qualify.

As previously reported, the program, which began the first of the month, allows motorists with ticket payments originally due before Jan. 1, 2013 to be eligible for discounts, depending on their incomes. Parking tickets, drunken-driving or reckless-driving violations are not covered under the program. The best way to find out if a ticket qualifies, according to Harris, is to contact the county where the ticket was issued.

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California traffic amnesty program to begin Thursday

By Adam Randall, Willits News

Drivers with unpaid traffic tickets originally due on or before Jan. 1, 2013 may qualify for a reduction in fees under the new 18-month amnesty program mandated by the governor that begins today and ends on March 31, 2017. For some, the program may also result in the reinstatement of their California driver’s license.

The purpose of the program, according to the California Judicial Council, is to “provide relief to individuals who have found themselves in default of a court-ordered obligation because of unpaid bail or fines for traffic and non-traffic violations.”

Excluded from the program, according to the Judicial Council, are those who owe victim restitution, have outstanding misdemeanor or felony arrest warrants, parking and other local ordinance violations, driving under the influence and reckless driving violations.

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State to accept partial payment for overdue traffic fines

BY TONY BIZJAK, Sacramento Bee

California courts will give drivers with unpaid traffic tickets a financial break under a limited state amnesty program launched this week.

Motorists with outstanding tickets originally due on or before Jan. 1, 2013 will be allowed to pay them off at a reduced amount, either 50 percent or 80 percent of the citation amount, depending on the driver’s income, state officials said.

All assessed penalties will be waived, and payments can be made in installments.

And on Wednesday, Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Billl 405 by Sen. Bob Hertzberg, D-Los Angeles, to guarantee motorists can fight their tickets in court before being required to pay their fines.

The program, authorized by Senate Bill 85 and promoted by the Brown administration, goes into effect Thursday. It contains provisions that will allow license reinstatement for drivers who lost their license because they failed to pay the fine or appear in court.

California Will Become First in Nation to Collect All Data on Police Traffic Stops

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(From ACLU Press Release) – With a growing chorus of voices demanding systemic police reform, California is poised to pass AB 953: The Racial and Identity Profiling Act of 2015, the first-of-its-kind bill to collect basic information on police stops in order to combat racial and identity profiling. The bill, introduced by Assemblymember Shirley Weber (D-San Diego), was approved by the California Senate today and will return to its house of origin for concurrence. Following concurrence, AB 953 will be considered for signature by Governor Brown.

“Recent incidents have forced us to confront some ugly truths about the persistence of racial bias in law enforcement. One of our best defenses is information about who is stopped by police and why. Currently, information on these incidents isn’t provided publicly in a comprehensive way. The goal of AB 953 is to rectify this so we can make policies with the best information possible,” Weber said.

Just last week, nearly 800 people descended upon the capitol to urge Governor Brown to pledge his support for AB 953. Protestors staged three die-ins – each lasting four and a half minutes to represent the four and a half hours Michael Brown’s body lay on the ground after he was killed – and then proceeded to occupy the halls outside of Governor Brown’s office for over two hours. Specifically, participants cited racial profiling as one of the reasons why people of color are being killed by police at racially disproportionate rates.

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The Rap on Red-Light Camera Tickets, Safety and Car Insurance Rates

by Barbara Marquand | posted in Auto Insurance

Crashes involving drivers who run red lights kill hundreds of people a year and injure many more. In an effort to reduce red-light violations, cities across the country have installed traffic cameras to catch violators in the act.

Run a red light, and snap! The camera takes a photo of your license plate, and a ticket arrives later in the mail. In some states your car insurance rates could go up, while in others these tickets-by-mail have no impact.

[Tickets? You might be able to get a better deal by comparing quotes through NerdWallet’s Car Insurance Tool.]

While hundreds, if not thousands, of cameras have been installed, research on whether the cameras actually make roads safer is inconclusive. Critics say camera programs are more about making money for cities and camera companies than improving safety, and 10 states have prohibited their use, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.

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California Courts Protect Red Light Camera Collection Agency

California Court of Appeal rules that this is the wrong plaintiff and wrong lawyer to challenge red light camera collection tactics.

California’s second highest court on Thursday blocked a class action lawsuit against a red light camera collection agency. Motorist Richard Howard had filed suit against GC Services after he received notices falsely claiming that he owed $680 to the Los Angeles County Superior Court over an unpaid red light camera citation. The state Court of Appeal refused to allow his claim to be heard by a jury because this was the wrong person, with the wrong lawyer, to bring the case as a class action.

When Howard received a collection letter on July 12, 2010, he was confused as he had never received any photo ticket in the mail. Howard lives six hours away from Los Angeles in Concord, and he had not driven that far south since 1999. The state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) knew nothing about the citation.

Howard’s suit argues that the collections letter was filled with fraudulent claims, including the false statement that the county court would garnish his wages if he failed to pay up immediately. In Los Angeles County, the court actually refused to enforce photo tickets, which led to the city dropping its camera program entirely. The collection letters were sent to as many as 22,000 motorists.

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