California Wiped Out Traffic Ticket Late Fees! Check if Yours is Gone
It’s a win for everyone who ever got a $35 Jaywalking ticket that ballooned to $635 because of late fees, or for a Street Cleaning citation that went unpaid, to a mistaken Bridge Toll Evasion that the court sent the letters to the wrong address for months, or you were too damn broke to pay the fines so the court just kept the juice running until the penalties were insurmountable.
California Assembly Bill 199, which was passed on June 30, just eliminated more than $500 million of late fee debt in California! This pertains to fines that were issued before July 1st, 2022.
Prior to July, there was a $300 late fee imposed against nearly anybody who missed a deadline, no matter how small or large their traffic offense was.
Anyone who wants to see how much they still owe (or don’t still owe) in San Francisco traffic tickets should go to the SF Court Citation Search Page and enter their driver’s license number.
San Francisco Superior Court has eliminated $50 million in outstanding debt for people who owed +$300 late fees charged by traffic court for when you miss a deadline to pay or appear. The court calls these late fees “civil assessments,” the rest of us Californians call these fines “extortion”, and thanks to a San Mateo lawsuit, these insane late fees are considered “wiped off the books”.
“We are funding the courts on the backs of the poorest people,” said Manuel Galindo, an organizer with the nonprofit Debt Collective, a plaintiff in a lawsuit filed in January against San Mateo Superior Court challenging its practice of automatically imposing a $300 “civil assessment” charge every time someone misses a payment or deadline in a traffic case.
For people barely scraping by in the insanely expensive Bay Area, a $300 fine can fucking ruin you. especially when it grows over time.
The lawsuit described the fee as a “hidden tax” the court automatically uses as a form of punishing people who miss the deadline to respond or pay their traffic tickets or other citations for minor infractions.
It also helps fund the courts — as revenue from civil assessments are placed in the ‘Trial Court Trust Fund’, a pile of money from which operating dollars are given to the courts by the Judicial Council, the policymaking body for the California court system.
The San Mateo Superior Court raised more than $9 million in the last three years alone, keeping $3.4 million for itself, the lawsuit says. But this kind of fine collection where the court benefits from this tax on the poor was commonplace all over California and it creates the wrong kind of incentive, when the taxing body massively benefits from issuing more fines.
Nearly 180,000 traffic court late fees, or “civil assessments” of $300 issued before July 1, 2022 have been canceled already with the fees issued after that date capped at $100!
If you have outstanding late fees, go to you your local court’s citation search page, and see if you’ve been forgiven!
Anyone who wants to see how much they still owe (or don’t still owe) in San Francisco traffic tickets should go to San Francisco Citation Search Page and enter their driver’s license number.
Types of Citations Included:
When an officer or meter maid gives you a ticket, it is for one of three possible kinds of citations ‘Parking Tickets’, ‘Infraction Traffic’ tickets, & ‘Misdemeanor’ traffic tickets. More info on all CA traffic citations can be found here.
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