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California is taking a new look at the highfees tacked onto traffic tickets and other criminal violations, wondering if the money could be better spent.
  • Posted January 6, 2016

California is taking a new look at the highfees tacked onto traffic tickets and other criminal violations, wondering if the money could be better spent.


SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — California is taking a new look at the highfees tacked onto traffic tickets and other criminal violations, wondering if the money could be better spent.

A new report by the California Legislative Analyst’s Office is recommending a fundamental change in the way criminal fines and fees are collected in California.

Currently, a $35 fine for running a stop sign actually costs $283 once surcharges and fees are added on. That fine has gone up $83 in the last 10 years.

“That’s tough for a lot of folks,” said Assemblyman Jim Cooper. “They wonder what the fees are and where they go.”

He says there are too many fees and he’s willing to consider changing the system.

“It’s tough, but I think we should re-examine it and make sure these fees are appropriate and lined up in the right area,” he said.

Depending on the violation, there are more than 50 state and local funds that collect money from fines to pay for things like new courthouses, DNA crime labs and emergency medical treatments—all required by state law. That’s why the report recommends consolidating most fees and depositing money in the state’s general fund so it can go where it’s most needed.

“Programs instead would focus on articulating how much money they need, why they need that money, and what they would be using that money for,” said Anita Lee.

But that could be controversial.

“I just have concerns if it goes back to the general fund, will some of those programs which are very noteworthy really get funded,” Cooper said.

The report also says the state should consider adjusting fines based on the individual’s ability to pay.

“You could have two individuals with different incomes paying a different penalty for the same crime,” Lee said.


Depending on the violation, these are the potential funds that benefit from California’s fine system.

Oil Pollution Response and Restoration Subaccount

Abalone and Restoration and Preservation Account

Osteopathic Medical Board of California Contingent Fund

Abandoned Watercraft Abatement Fund

Peace Officers’ Training Fund

California Beverage Container Recycling Fund

Pharmacy Board Contingent Fund

California Fire and Arson Training Fund

Private Security Services Fund

California Motorcyclist Safety Fund

Restitution Fund

Cigarette and Tobacco Products Compliance Fund

Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Fund

Cigarette Tax Fund

Secret Witness Program

Clandestine Drug Lab Clean–Up Account

State Children’s Trust Fund

Contingent Fund of the Medical Board of California

State Court Facilities Construction Fund

Corrections Training Fund

State Dentistry Fund

Court Facilities Trust Fund

State Fire Marshal Fireworks Enforcement and Disposal Fund

Department of Justice DNA Testing Fund

State Highway Account

Department of Justice Sexual Habitual Offender Fund

State Optometry Fund

Domestic Violence Restraining Order Reimbursement Fund

State Penalty Fund

Domestic Violence Training and Education Fund

State Water Pollution Cleanup and Abatement Account

Driver Training Penalty Assessment Fund

Toxic Substances Control Account

Emergency Medical Air Transportation Act Fund

Traumatic Brain Injury Fund

Environmental Enforcement and Training Account

Trial Court Improvement and Modernization Fund

Farmworker Remedial Account

Trial Court Operations Fund

Fish and Game Preservation Fund

Trial Court Trust Fund

Hazardous Materials Administration Subaccount

Underground Storage Tank Cleanup Fund

Home Care Penalties Subaccount

Veterinary Medical Board Contingent Fund

Illegal Drug Lab Cleanup Account

Victim–Witness Assistance Fund

Immediate and Critical Needs Account

Voter Intimidation Restitution Fund

Local Public Prosecutors and Public Defenders Fund

Waste Discharge Permit Fund

Missing Persons DNA Data Base Fund

Winter Recreation Fund

Motor Vehicle Account

Worker’s Compensation Fraud Account

Oil Pollution Administration Subaccount

County General Fund

Drug Program Fund

Alcohol Abuse and Prevention Fund

Fish and Game Propagation Fund

Automated County Warrant Fund

Forensic Laboratory Fund

Automated Fingerprint Identification and Digital Image Photographic Suspect Booking Identification System Fund

Inmate Welfare Fund

Children’s Trust Fund

Juvenile Justice Construction Fund (Kern and Ventura Counties)

Courthouse Construction Fund

Maddy Emergency Services Fund

Criminal Justice Facilities Construction Fund

Night Court Session Fund

Criminal Justice Investigation Fund (Imperial County)

Rabies Treatment and Eradication Fund

Criminalistics Laboratory Fund

Real Estate Fraud Prosecution Trust Fund

County Jail Fund (Orange and Solano Counties)

Special Purpose Funds

DNA Identification Fund

Transportation District, Commission, or Authority General Fund

Domestic Violence Programs Special Fund

Various unspecified funds to support specific activities