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California sets up 50 percent discount for some old unpaid tickets

Posted on in Criminal Defense

For the first six-months of 2012, Californians with old, unpaid traffic tickets will be able to clear up the delinquent tickets at a significant savings. The state is offering a sort-of amnesty-like program for people who have outstanding traffic tickets that are at least 3-years-old. The deal the state is offering during the six-month period is a half-price offer. Californians with old unpaid tickets can clear-up the delinquent fines for half price. The new law seeks to recover a portion of the roughly $900 million in overdue traffic ticket fines.

The Administrative Office of the Courts in California estimates the traffic ticket discount could generate as much as $46 million for the state. The traffic ticket discount offer applies to tickets that had an original due date before the start of 2009. A major caveat, however, the 50 percent traffic ticket discount program does not apply to drunk driving fines, reckless driving offenses nor parking tickets.

The law also allows individual counties to further limit the scope of the discount program. For instance, a manager with the Enhanced Collection's Unit with the state courts says a county can limit the discount to such infractions as speeding tickets and running a red light, while excluding misdemeanor violations, like driving with a suspended license.

California tickets can rack up high costs for those who have been cited. The state places a civil assessment of up to $300 on a ticket that is not paid on time, or for drivers who fail to appear in court. The 50 percent discount will allow many Santa Cruz residents with old tickets to clear their names of the past due amounts, at a significant discount.

This is not the first time California has offered a discount program on traffic tickets to clear old cases and to generate revenue for the state, as well as counties and cities in California. Similar programs were offered in 1992 and 1996.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle, "California plans half-off traffic ticket amnesty," Bob Egelko, Oct. 14, 2011

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