What happens if you don’t have the money to pay your fine to appear in court? You eventually lose your drivers license. For the past 10 years, the financially disadvantaged in California have been left without access to the judicial system because of the high fees and fines they were forced to pay before being heard in court. The good news is that this changed in June, 2015. You can now fight your traffic ticket without paying your fines in advance.
Up until this law was enacted, if you received a traffic ticket, you had to pay your ticket fees before you could set a date to contest it. The California Judicial Council in early June, 2015, voted to end this practice in traffic courts across the state.
According to the Los Angeles Times, nearly 5 million Californians since 2006 have had their licenses suspended for unpaid tickets, which have soared in cost because the state has attached a variety of fees to pay for various programs. The Judicial Council adopted the new rule ending what has been called “a pay-to-play system.” Judicial policymakers were urged to take emergency action to ensure that all California courts respect due process and do not force people to “pay to play” to be heard in court. The emergency action created a rule of court to make access to the judicial system available to people with traffic fines. Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye stated during an April Judicial Council business meeting that the impact of high fees for traffic offenses is a fiscal issue as well as an access to justice issue that must be addressed.
If you have received a citation and you plan on fighting it, you can now set your court date BEFORE you pay your fee. Sometimes, you CAN fight the system.
Excerpted from an original post to the Southern California Defense Blog on July 1, 2015.
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