How hard up for cash are California’s courts? So much that they’re granting partial amnesty to traffic scofflaws.
The state’s Administrative Office of the Courts announced Thursday that Superior Courts in all 58 counties are offering a 50-percent-off discount on some old unpaid traffic tickets – a limited-time amnesty program” for certain outstanding court debt.
Only traffic tickets that were due to be paid in full before Jan. 1, 2009 are eligible, and parking tickets, driving under the influence (DUI), and reckless driving cases are not eligible. To qualify, you have to have either failed to appear in court or failed to pay in full; you can’t owe restitution to a victim on any case within the county where the traffic case was filed, and you can’t have any outstanding misdemeanor or felony warrants in that county.
The courts estimate more than six million cases statewide could qualify.
“This is a win-win,” Ronald Overholt, the interim administrative director of the courts, said in a news release. “People have an opportunity to clear their traffic tickets at a reduced cost, and the courts and the counties will get an injection of much-needed funds to help maintain critical services for the public.”
The program will begin Jan. 1 and end June 30, 2012; contact your county’s court during that time for further details.
The amnesty program was authorized by AB 1358 by Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes, D-Sylmar, which the state Senate approved unanimously and the Assembly approved 77-1; Gov Jerry Brown signed it into law Sunday.
California’s courts are facing an unprecedented financial crisis.
“This year, the judicial branch budget is only 2.4 percent of the state budget and we also unwillingly contributed $1.1 billion back to the General Fund,” Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye told the State Bar of California at its annual meeting last month in Long Beach. “That’s 2.4 percent of the state budget to protect the constitutional rights of 38 million Californians, to provide a place for the resolution of civil disputes, to protect public rights, and to protect the rule of law.”