Excessive Punishment for Financial Woes

Young female friends reading ticket with traffic officer standing in the background

Drivers in California are losing their licenses. Those licenses are not being taken because they are poor drivers or because they have caused accidents, but because they couldn’t afford to pay minor traffic tickets. Lawmakers are discussing what, for example, a busted headlight has to do with someone’s ability to drive safely. If some have their way, license suspension won’t occur because citizens can’t pay their citations.

Senator Bob Hertzberg has introduced a bill that would make it illegal to suspend a person’s driver’s license because they didn’t pay a ticket for a minor infraction. As it stands, a person who fails to pay a citation, no matter the reason, is at risk of losing their license. This, lawmakers say, can have a spiraling effect. If a person loses their license, they have no way to work. If they can’t work, they don’t earn money. If they don’t earn money, that ticket still doesn’t get paid.

Under the new proposal, people would still face suspension of their driver’s license for major traffic infractions like driving under the influence and reckless driving. Provided that driver’s have made a good faith effort to pay their minor citations, their driver’s licenses would have to be restored. In the future, those licenses wouldn’t be suspended at all. Lawmakers say that it is a regressive tax that needs to be eliminated.

According to a spokesman for the senator, a simple $25 citation can quickly turn into a $1,000 ticket when late fees, court costs and other fees are tacked on. People who can’t pay the $25 ticket certainly can’t pay one that costs a grand.

If you have been issued a citation in New York, don’t panic: Feifer & Greenberg is here for you. Reach out to our office for a free consultation and let us advise you of your legal options today.