Last month, Los Angeles Magazine reported that California lawmakers are working to make changes to the state’s policies regarding traffic ticket late fees. Some are angling for the fees to be lowered and others are working to have the fees eliminated.
The tickets are often for minor infractions, such as parking and jaywalking violations. Initially, many of the tickets are for as little as $35, but if a person does not pay the ticket by the deadline or fails to appear in court, they could have an additional late fee of as much as $300 added to the ticket’s price tag. If a person has multiple tickets, they can face additional late charges, which can quickly transform a few modestly priced tickets into an unaffordable debt.
California Governor Gavin Newsom has proposed cutting the fees in half to $150 and having the state pay off current pending late charges, so that people can have a fresh start. However, advocacy groups argue that the late fees should be eliminated entirely, because the fees disproportionately target low-income individuals and minorities.
One way or the other, a solution regarding this issue will hopefully be reached within the coming weeks.
What Should I Do If I Get a Traffic Ticket?
If you get a traffic ticket, in some cases, you may have options for dealing with it other than just paying it. If you receive a misdemeanor traffic ticket, you need to take it seriously, because it is considered a criminal act, and could result in severe penalties if you ignore it. One example of a misdemeanor traffic ticket is if you are charged with driving without a license or with a suspended license. If you get a misdemeanor traffic ticket, you should discuss your situation with an experienced criminal defense attorney before making any decisions about how to proceed.
If you get a ticket for a traffic infraction, while it is less serious than a misdemeanor ticket, you should still not ignore it. Examples of traffic infraction tickets include driving with an expired license, speeding, driving with expired registration, parking violations, and jaywalking. With these kinds of tickets, you have a few options:
- Plead guilty to the offense and pay the traffic fine.
- In some cases, you may have the option to go to traffic school as a part of your punishment. If you do, it can help you avoid having points added to your driving record. (You must pay extra to go to traffic school.)
- If it is a fix-it ticket, you may be able to take care of the issue (such as renewing your vehicle’s registration) and then provide the court with proof that you resolved the problem. (Fix-it tickets are only available for correctable violations.)
- Plead not guilty and go to trial to fight the charges. If you choose this option, your best bet is to hire an experienced traffic violations defense attorney to help you with your case.