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  • Posted August 11, 2017

Drivers hit by big traffic fines get a break under legal settlement

Advocates for California motorists who face mounting fees for traffic tickets have reached a legal settlement under which those who can’t pay their fines will be offered alternatives.

The settlement with Solano County Superior Court, which advocacy groups described as a model for other counties, requires the court to notify drivers of affordable alternatives to traffic fines. Depending on their income, drivers could ask to pay the fine in installments, seek a lower fine or perform community service.

The agreement follows the enactment of a state law, effective July 1, that prohibited California courts from suspending drivers’ licenses because the motorist couldn’t afford to pay a ticket. Earlier, the state Judicial Council told traffic courts to adopt rules basing fines on drivers’ ability to pay. Legislation pending in Sacramento would require those rules to be uniform statewide.

“Now we’d like to see counties across California follow Solano County’s example and address the exorbitant traffic fines and fees structure that plunges people into a cycle of poverty,” said Christine Sun, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, which took part in Tuesday’s settlement.