The California Assembly Transportation Committee voted 9-to-4 to pass SB 881 Vehicles: violations.
SB 881 stops the automatic suspension of driver’s licenses for low-income people with minor traffic offenses who fail to appear in court or to pay initial fines that snowball into huge financial burdens. The bill proposes to restore driver’s licenses to those with a payment plan and adjust escalating fees after taking low incomes into account.
The bill was introduced by State Senator Bob Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, and it is co-sponsored by the Western Center on Law and the Poverty and the American Civil Liberties Union of California.
According to the Department of Motor Vehicles about 612,000 Californians have a suspended driver’s license due to failure to appear or failure to pay on traffic tickets. A U.S. Federal Reserve report found that nearly half of American adults don’t have $400 to pay for an emergency expense like fees for minor driving offenses.
The poor and those living on low incomes have been especially hard hit by court fines, fees, and penalties for minor offenses that rapidly rise if not quickly addressed — sometimes leading to incarceration and losing jobs.
The legislation does not apply to offenses involving reckless driving or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
SB 881 has already passed the Senate and goes next to the Assembly Public Safety Committee for consideration later this summer, said spokesman Andrew LaMar.
Organizations mentioned/involved: Western Center on Law & Poverty (WCLP)