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Stop trapping people in poverty: End driver's license suspensions for the inability to pay minor traffic fines

This petition had 6,356 supporters

Nationwide, traffic citation fines have steadily increased over the past few decades. Here in California, traffic fines have been used to generate revenues, so what used to be a $100 violation can now exceed $800 if you miss a payment deadline. These fines can quickly lead to many negative consequences for people like me. California should set an example for the rest of the nation by ending this harmful practice.

My driver’s license was once suspended because a person who purchased my previous car received numerous “red light” violations that he didn’t respond to. I was somehow penalized, and couldn’t pay the tickets in full as a disability recipient on a fixed income. Without driving privileges, I struggled to get around on public transportation, complete my education and attend my doctor’s appointments. 

These penalties disproportionately affect people like me who are struggling to break from the grip of poverty. Sometimes, we can’t pay the unreasonable fees as they escalate. Then, when we can’t get to work, we can’t make a living to pay the fines. And it’s harder to get and keep jobs, find a safe place to call home and take care of our families or ourselves.

Continuing the practice of driver's license suspensions is a costly and wasteful use of our government's resources. It’s time for California to put an immediate end to license suspensions for the inability to pay traffic fines.

The number of people with license suspensions is at a record high: in the last six years, over four million Californians had their licenses suspended because they didn’t pay the full fines for minor infractions. In many ways, the system is not working: California has more than $10 billion in uncollected court-ordered debt. What’s the point of issuing fines to people that cannot pay them?

Several municipal courts in the Ferguson, Missouri, area recently reformed their systems after pressure was applied. And fortunately, Governor Jerry Brown will soon unveil an amnesty proposal that restores licenses and reduces traffic court debts by 50% for those with suspended licenses. But the program will not address future suspensions or benefit people unable to pay off their remaining debt. We can make this happen.

It’s time to get rid of this unfair system that has long had a devastating impact on families and communities nationwide. Tell California leaders that they should halt the use of license suspensions as a collection tool because it causes job loss, economic instability and social inequality. Thank you for your support of my petition.

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