CA Senator Introduces Traffic Ticket Amnesty: "They've got to pay for food for their kids or shelter. The punishment doesn't fit the crime!"
We must "fix this injustice in the system," this "unbelievably unjust approach" to funding the courts, says Democratic Senator
By Martin Hill
LibertyFight.com
May 29, 2015


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California State Senator Bob Hertzberg (D., Van Nuys) has introduced SB 405, an amnesty for unpaid infraction and misdemeanor violations.

The bill has successfully moved through the state legislature, passing in the public safety committee on April 28th and the Senate Appropriations Committee yesterday, May 28th.

Hertzberg's original press release on the matter stated, in part,

"We are criminalizing the poor and dramatically impacting their lives with punishments that far exceed their crimes by slamming them with excessive fines," Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, said shortly before the unanimous, bipartisan vote in support of Senate Bill 405. "Then we take away their ability to get to work. We need to fix." Hertzberg added that his plan is a reasonable way for working-class people to get their driving privileges restored and compliments the governor's proposed Traffic Amnesty Program. The governor's proposal seeks to improve court-ordered debt collection and aims to recover at least some of the estimated $10 billion in uncollected, court-ordered debt."


The text of SB 405 states, in part,

(a) Driving in California is often described as a privilege, but for millions of Californians it is an economic necessity. Each day millions of Californians take to the road to go to work, drop off their children at school and activities, go shopping, and visit family. Without the ability to drive, millions of families cannot afford to pay the cost of housing, pay utilities, put food on the table, afford clothing for their children, or be able to save for retirement. In short, driving is a fundamental need of virtually every person in the state.

(b) Unfortunately, millions of Californians have lost the ability to drive legally. Their driver's licenses have been suspended, not because they are a danger to public safety, but because they could not pay fines associated with minor traffic tickets and other related fees and assessments. In the past five years, the Department of Motor Vehicles has suspended more than 2.7 million driver's licenses for drivers' failure to appear in court or failure to make payments ordered by a court. The Legislative Analyst's Office reports that there is currently more than $10 billion in court-ordered, uncollected debt in California and $8 billion of this amount is for unpaid traffic violations.


(c) For many families, a driver's license suspension is the beginning of a descent into abject poverty for which there is no escape. Legal services advocates report that once a person gets his or her driver's license suspended in California, it is virtually impossible for the driver's license to be restored until all the unpaid fees, fines, and assessments are completely paid. Many people with a suspended driver's license are low income and can only pay the debt off a little at a time. Others are unemployed or on public assistance and cannot afford to make any payments.

...The bill would require the Department of Motor Vehicles to restore the driving privilege of a participant in the amnesty program whose driver's license was suspended for failure to appear in court or failure to pay a fine or bail, as specified. The bill would direct the Judicial Council to adopt guidelines for the amnesty program by March 1, 2016.


Hertzbrg served in the CA legislature from 1996-2002, when he was Speaker of the California Assembly. He then returned to private industry and was relected to office in 2014. He is a lawyer representing 1 million San Fernando Valley residents in District 18. Here is his bio. You can reach his office at (916) 651-4018 (Sacramento) or (818) 901-5588 (Van Nuys.); or e-mail him here.

Kudos to Senator Hertzberg, who should be applauded for introducing this merciful and common-sense legislation. He stated, in part,

"This is one of those bills that's personal to me. It's one of those things that really gets under my skin. Because what we've done ion the government as we've faced these difficult budget choices .. is we've given authority, and I was a culprit in some of this stuff many years ago, to simply add fees to everything. ..Well what we learned from that process ..that we're really not collecting much money.. and two that we are dramatically impacting peoples lives and charging somebody $800 for a jaywalking ticket or whatever it is, and they immediately lose their license because they miss a court appearance on matters that don't relate to public safety issues. It's akin to charging them $100 million dollars, they cant afford it. They've got to pay for food for their kids or shelter. The punishment doesn't fit the crime! This is the first of many bills im going to introduce as long as I'm here, to fix this injustice in the system"

Here is a video of Hertzberg discussing SB 405. Below is the text of SB 405 in its' entirety.



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An act to add and repeal Section 42008.8 of the Vehicle Code, relating to vehicles.

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST

SB 405, as amended, Hertzberg. Vehicles: infraction and misdemeanor violations: amnesty.

Existing law requires a county to establish a one-time amnesty program for fines and bail due on or before January 1, 2009, for certain infraction or misdemeanor violations of the Vehicle Code and the Penal Code. Existing law allows a person owing a fine or bail that was eligible for amnesty under this program to pay 50% of the total fine or bail, as defined, which is required to be accepted by the court in full satisfaction of the delinquent fine or bail. Under existing law, the amnesty program was operative from January 1, 2012, until June 30, 2012.

This bill would, until January 1, 2018, require a county that establishes an amnesty program to allow a person owing a fine or bail that was due on or before January 1, 2013, to pay a specified percentage of the delinquent amount in full satisfaction of the fine or bail and to comply with guidelines promulgated by the Judicial Council. The bill would require the Department of Motor Vehicles to restore the driving privilege of a participant in the amnesty program whose driver's license was suspended for failure to appear in court or failure to pay a fine or bail, as specified. The bill would direct the Judicial Council to adopt guidelines for the amnesty program by March 1, 2016. The bill would also require counties to file a report with the Judicial Council, for submission to the Legislature, regarding the number of cases resolved, the amount of money collected, and the operating costs of the amnesty program. The bill would state findings and declarations by the Legislature relative to these matters. By imposing these duties on counties, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program.

The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.

This bill would provide that, if the Commission on State Mandates determines that the bill contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement for those costs shall be made pursuant to these statutory provisions.

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:

SECTION 1. The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:

(a) Driving in California is often described as a privilege, but for millions of Californians it is an economic necessity. Each day millions of Californians take to the road to go to work, drop off their children at school and activities, go shopping, and visit family. Without the ability to drive, millions of families cannot afford to pay the cost of housing, pay utilities, put food on the table, afford clothing for their children, or be able to save for retirement. In short, driving is a fundamental need of virtually every person in the state.


(b) Unfortunately, millions of Californians have lost the ability to drive legally. Their driver's licenses have been suspended, not because they are a danger to public safety, but because they could not pay fines associated with minor traffic tickets and other related fees and assessments. In the past five years, the Department of Motor Vehicles has suspended more than 2.7 million driver's licenses for drivers' failure to appear in court or failure to make payments ordered by a court. The Legislative Analyst's Office reports that there is currently more than $10 billion in court-ordered, uncollected debt in California and $8 billion of this amount is for unpaid traffic violations.

(c) For many families, a driver's license suspension is the beginning of a descent into abject poverty for which there is no escape. Legal services advocates report that once a person gets his or her driver's license suspended in California, it is virtually impossible for the driver's license to be restored until all the unpaid fees, fines, and assessments are completely paid. Many people with a suspended driver's license are low income and can only pay the debt off a little at a time. Others are unemployed or on public assistance and cannot afford to make any payments. The State of New Jersey did a study of persons with suspended driver's licenses and found that 42 percent lost their jobs after their driver's licenses were suspended and less than half one-half of them were able to find new jobs; 88 percent experienced a loss of income.

(d) The original rationale for suspending driver's licenses was to compel persons a person who had committed a serious public safety violation to correct his or her behavior. This rationale over time has been extended to hundreds of nonpublic safety violations. As a report by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA), 'Best Practices Guide to Reducing Suspended Drivers' notes, all 50 states now suspend driver's licenses for nonhighway safety reasons. The AAMVA report recommends that states repeal laws that lead to driver's license suspensions for nonpublic safety reasons and replace those suspensions with payment plans and wage garnishments to collect court-ordered debt.

SEC. 2. Section 42008.8 is added to the Vehicle Code, to read:


42008.8. (a) A county that establishes a one-time amnesty program for fines and bail shall conduct the program in accordance with guidelines provided by the Judicial Council. The guidelines shall be adopted by March 1, 2016. Until the guidelines are adopted by the Judicial Council, each program shall initially be conducted in accordance with the Judicial Council's guidelines adopted pursuant to subdivision (f) of Section 42008.7.

(b) Unless agreed otherwise by the court and the county in writing, the government entities that are responsible for the collection of delinquent court-ordered debt shall be responsible for implementation of the amnesty program as to that debt, maintaining the same division of responsibility in place with respect to the collection of court-ordered debt under subdivision (b) of Section 1463.010 of the Penal Code.

(c) Commencing January 1, 2016, until January 1, 2018, each amnesty program shall accept, in full satisfaction of any eligible fine or bail, of which the due date for payment was on or before January 1, 2013, the following amounts:

(1) Eighty percent of the fine or bail if the person has income that exceeds 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

(2) Fifty percent of the fine or bail if the person has income that is greater than 150 percent of, but no more than 200 percent of, the federal poverty level.

(3) Twenty percent of the fine or bail if the person has income that is no more than 150 percent of the federal poverty level.

(d) Nothing in this section shall limit the court's ability to issue an earning withholdings order as described in Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 706.101) of Division 2 of Title 9 of Part 2 of the Code of Civil Procedure or to order the person to perform community services in lieu of paying the amounts specified in subdivision (c).

(e) The department shall restore the driving privilege of a participant in the amnesty program whose driver's license was suspended pursuant to Section 13365.


(f) The department shall provide a notice to each person whose driver's license has been suspended pursuant to Section 13365 regarding his or her potential eligibility for the amnesty program. The notice shall be provided in the languages specified in subdivision (b) of Section 1632 of the Civil Code.

(g) No criminal action shall be brought against a person for a delinquent fine or bail paid under the amnesty program.

(h) Each court or county implementing an amnesty program shall file, not later than one year after establishing the program, a written report with the Judicial Council, on a form approved by the Judicial Council. The report shall include information about the number of cases resolved, the amount of money collected, and the operating costs of the amnesty program. The Judicial Council shall submit a report to the Legislature summarizing the information provided by each court or county. The report shall be submitted in compliance with Section 9795 of the Government Code.

(i) This section shall remain in effect only until January 1, 2018, and as of that date is repealed, unless a later enacted statute, that is enacted before January 1, 2018, deletes or extends that date.

SEC. 3. If the Commission on State Mandates determines that this act contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement to local agencies and school districts for those costs shall be made pursuant to Part 7 (commencing with Section 17500) of Division 4 of Title 2 of the Government Code.

http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billVotesClient.xhtml.

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Martin Hill is a Catholic paleoconservative and civil rights advocate. His work has been featured in the Los Angeles Daily News, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, The Orange County Register, KNBC4 TV Los Angeles, The Press Enterprise, LewRockwell.com, WhatReallyHappened.com, Infowars.com, PrisonPlanet.com, Economic Policy Journal, TargetLiberty.com, FreedomsPhoenix, Haaretz, TMZ, Veterans Today, Jonathan Turley blog, The Dr. Katherine Albrecht Show, National Motorists Association, AmericanFreePress.net, RomanCatholicReport.com, WorldNetDaily, HenryMakow.com, OverdriveOnline.com, Educate-Yourself.org, TexeMarrs.com, Dr. Kevin Barrett's Truth Jihad radio show, Strike-The-Root.com, Pasadena Weekly, ActivistPost.com, Los Angeles Catholic Lay Mission Newspaper, KFI AM 640, IamtheWitness.com, Redlands Daily Facts, SaveTheMales.ca, BlackBoxVoting, The Michael Badnarik Show, The Wayne Madsen Report, Devvy.com, Rense.com, FromTheTrenchesWorldReport.com, BeforeItsNews.com, The Contra Costa Times, Pasadena Star News, Silicon Valley Mercury News, Long Beach Press Telegram, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, L.A. Harbor Daily Breeze, CopBlock.org, DavidIcke.com, Whittier Daily News, KCLA FM Hollywood, The Fullerton Observer, Antiwar.com, From The Trenches World Report, and many others. Archives can be found at LibertyFight.com and DontWakeMeUp.Org.



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