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.
WHO BENEFITS FROM THE FEES?
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
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