License suspensions create hardship for poor

Tammerlin Drummond
October 12, 2015


“Not Just a Ferguson Problem: How Traffic Courts Drive Inequality in California,” a report from the East Bay Community Law Center, describes the connection between traffic fines, debt, license suspensions, and economic outcomes for low-income Californians.

“People coming to our clinic want to pay but they can’t pay all at once because the fines have increased so sharply,” said Elisa Della Piana, Director of Programs at the East Bay Community Law Center. “They go to court and say I’ll pay you $50 a month or $100 a month but the court is saying, ‘we won’t even talk to you until you pay the full amount.'”

SB 405 from Robert Hertzberg, would provide for license reinstatement in nonviolent cases, and set up a sliding scale payment structure that would go as low as 20 percent of fines due for the least wealthy debtors. Jerry Brown’s traffic amnesty program only reduces fines by 50 percent, but applies to everyone regardless of income.

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Organizations mentioned/involved: East Bay Community Law Center (EBCLC)