You Can No Longer Lose Your License for Unpaid Traffic Fines, But Don’t Just Ignore an Unpaid Traffic Ticket in California

A year ago this month, the governor signed into law Assembly Bill 103, which served to end the state’s practice of suspending drivers’ licenses solely because they had unpaid traffic fines. The new law is a major boost for many California drivers, especially low-income individuals. However, just because you cannot lose your license from not paying a traffic ticket doesn’t mean that a traffic ticket will no longer have any major negative consequences on your personal finances and your life. There are still ways in which unpaid tickets can seriously harm your life. That is why it is important not to ignore your ticket, to take it seriously, and to contact a California traffic ticket attorney to discuss your options.

The new legislation ended the practice of suspending licenses through a procedural means. The law brought a stop to the process of California courts notifying the Department of Motor Vehicles about drivers’ unpaid traffic fines. With that notification process ended, the law also ended the DMV’s requirement to suspend licenses for that reason, according to the Porterville Recorder.

The state ended the practice because it was ineffective and potentially unfair, according to a Los Angeles Times report. The governor stated that the suspensions did not serve their actual purpose (to help the state increase its collection of unpaid traffic fines) and could potentially serve to “send low-income people into a cycle of job losses and more poverty.” An East Bay Express article highlighted the case of one Northern California man who received a traffic ticket but was unable to pay his fine. Since he did not pay, the state suspended his driver’s license. Needing to drive from Richmond to San Leandro for work, the man eventually ended up with four holds on his license and between $5,000 and $6,000 in fines owed.

One thing that AB 103 did not do, however, is apply retroactively. That means that the nearly half a million California drivers whose licenses were already suspended for unpaid traffic fines are not entitled to immediate automatic reinstatement simply because AB 103 became law. Some courts, in the months after the law’s passage, began acting to address this issue. According to the Express article, the Alameda County Superior Court acted in November 2017 to lift the “holds” that had been placed on licenses for unpaid fines. This action had the effect of giving driving privileges back to roughly 54,000 drivers, according to the report.

AB 103 did not eliminate other bases for license suspensions that had previously been written into the law. For example, you can still potentially have your license suspended for transgressions like failing to appear for your court date.

Even with this helpful change in the law, doing nothing in response to the traffic ticket you received is not a productive choice. Your unpaid traffic ticket can still affect your life in negative and important ways. Assert your right to defend yourself by retaining the San Francisco traffic ticket attorneys at Uthman Law Office. Attorney David Uthman has over 20 years of experience as a litigation attorney and almost a decade of experience as a police officer. Put our knowledge of the law and the system to work for you. Call us today at (415) 556-9200 to schedule your FREE initial consultation to get the help you need.

More blog posts:

New California Legislation Could Limit Immigration Questions in Unrelated Court Cases, San Francisco Criminal Lawyer Blog, May 16, 2018

What You Should Do (and What Not to Do) When you Receive a Speeding Ticket in California, San Francisco Criminal Lawyer Blog, March 27, 2018

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