Are California Licenses Suspended for Traffic Fines?

If you’ve been a long-time resident of California, you’re probably familiar with the state’s practice of suspending driver’s licenses for unpaid traffic fines. Well, that was all in the past. Starting July of this year, “Californians no longer will face losing their driver’s license because of unpaid traffic fines,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

What prompted the change? Gov. Jerry Brown determined that suspending people’s driver’s licenses for unpaid traffic fines did not help the State of California collect these fines. Instead, this practice would harm low-income individuals by sending them into a vicious cycle of job losses and even more poverty. In Brown’s budget proposal submitted in January, Brown said, “There does not appear to be a strong connection” between suspending people’s driver licenses and collecting unpaid fines.

Sen. Bob Hertzberg, a Van Nuys Democrat who supported the measure said that the policy is going to help ensure that people’s lives are not derailed because of traffic tickets. The provision will prevent the California Courts from suspending people’s driver licenses due to unpaid fines.

Is the New Law Retroactive?

According to data from the Department of Motor Vehicles, in March of this year, over 485,000 people’s driver’s licenses were suspended because they failed to pay their traffic fines or because they missed their court appearances. So, will those people be able to have their license suspensions reversed?

According to DMV Spokesman Artemio Armenta, “The new law will not apply retroactively to people whose licenses already are suspended for failing to pay fines.” Under the bill, the courts maintain the right to suspend driver’s licenses because of failing to appear in court – it specifically applies to suspending driver’s licenses because of unpaid traffic fines.

“Hertzberg said the new policy is a good first step in changing state law so it doesn’t punish people for being poor,” reported the Times.

Do you need help with a suspended driver’s license issue in Orange County? If so, contact our firm to meet with a traffic violation attorney!

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