A traffic ticket amnesty program is now available and allows Californians to pay off certain traffic tickets by offering monthly payments.
The amnesty program began on Oct. 1, 2015.
According to the Department of Motor Vehicles’ (DMV) website, Gov. Jerry Brown signed the Statewide Traffic Ticket/ Infractions Amnesty Program into law on June 24, 2015 and will allow California citizens to give payments on unpaid traffic tickets and possibly even reduce their debt by 50-80 percent.
To qualify, individuals must have an unpaid traffic ticket that was due by Jan. 1, 2013. However, this does not apply to parking tickets, Driving Under the Influence offenses or reckless driving. The individual must also not have any other misdemeanors or felonies in the county where the violation occurred, according to the DMV website. Speeding, unsafe lane changes and seat belt violations all qualify under the program guidelines.
The amnesty will allow suspended licenses to be reinstated with a fee of $55, according to the DMV website.
The DMV will be notified by the court if the individual appears in court and has paid the fine in full or has agreed to the amnesty payment program, but it is up to the individual to call the court in the county where the violation took place to make sure the procedure of license reinstatement takes place.
The program was proposed after two law enforcement training programs were aimed at helping drivers pay citation debts. It is intended to lower the $10 million debt in uncollected, court-ordered fines, according to the LA Times.
According to the LA Times, in the first month, 128,000 phone calls were made to the private debt collector who manages this program in the Los Angeles County to pay fines.
Over 50,000 citation related applications were reported and over 12,000 were either fully or partially paid.
The city collected $1.3 million, according to Mary Eckhardt Hearn, the Los Angeles Superior Court spokeswoman.
However, there have been some problems already with debt collection agencies that are under contract to the amnesty.
They have failed to inform people about the program and told qualifying individuals that they are not eligible. Some agencies have also failed to notify DMVs about consumers who were granted the okay to be given their driver license back, according to a consumer alert from state Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris.
“I feel like this is a really positive law that will end up benefiting a lot of people. Many of us make mistakes or are involved in accidents and we have to face the consequences but its completely understandable if not everyone has hundreds of dollars saved up just to pay traffic fines,” said student Jared Thorpe.
“Getting your license suspended just adds on to misfortune, so the reinstatement clause just helps that much more people get back on the road to be able to pay of their fines,” continued Thorpe.
The “one-time” amnesty program will be available until March 31, 2017.