California Drivers License Amnesty Starts Oct 1, 2015

Starting today the California Drivers License Amnesty Program will be effective from October 1, 2015 through March 31, 2017. Amnesty guidelines have been approved by the Judicial Council and should be referenced by court and county collection programs when planning for, and administering, the one-time amnesty program.

California Drivers License Amnesty

The Statewide Traffic Tickets/Infraction Amnesty Program Guidelines are based on Senate Bill 85, which added Vehicle Code section 42008.8 to include specified Vehicle Code misdemeanor violations in addition to Vehicle and non-Vehicle Code Infractions. The following resources are available to assist in the implementation and administration of the amnesty program.

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.

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It covers most moving violations including speeding, stop sign and red light violations. It also includes some non-traffic violations such as littering, trespassing and loitering.

You cannot get amnesty for driving under the influence or reckless driving, and certain other major vehicle code violations.  The amnesty is also not available for violations of local ordinances.

California has drawn sharp criticism for hefty fines and add-on fees that in some cases amount to quadruple the original fines.  Consumer and civil rights groups have argued that this is discriminatory toward minorities and the poor.  Losing a driver’s license also can cost drivers their jobs if they can’t afford to pay the fines.  Out of 4.73 million Californians with licenses suspended by courts for failure to pay or show up in court, only 82,000 have been reinstated.

An amnesty program not only helps drivers get back on their feet and have a second chance, but also puts money in the state’s treasury.  An earlier amnesty program in 2012 brought in $12.3 million dollars.

To apply, contact the Superior Court in the jurisdiction where your ticket was issued. (See  www.courts.ca.gov/find-my-court.htm.)

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