Bill Text: CA SB405 | 2015-2016 | Regular Session | Introduced

NOTE: There are more recent revisions of this legislation. Read Latest Draft
Bill Title: Failure to appear in court: fines.

Spectrum: Moderate Partisan Bill (Democrat 12-2)

Status: (Passed) 2015-09-30 - Chaptered by Secretary of State. Chapter 385, Statutes of 2015. [SB405 Detail]

Download: California-2015-SB405-Introduced.html
BILL NUMBER: SB 405	INTRODUCED
	BILL TEXT


INTRODUCED BY   Senator Hertzberg

                        FEBRUARY 25, 2015

   An act relating to vehicles.


	LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


   SB 405, as introduced, Hertzberg. Vehicles: failure to appear or
pay fine: suspension of driving privilege.
   Existing law authorizes the magistrate or clerk of a court to
notify the Department of Motor Vehicles if any person has violated a
written promise to appear or an order to appear, or willfully fails
to pay a fine for a violation of specified provisions of the Vehicle
Code. Existing law requires the department to suspend the driver's
license of a person upon receipt of the above-described notice from
the court that the person has violated a written promise to appear or
willfully failed to pay a fine, if there are prior violations, as
specified.
   This bill would declare the intent of the Legislature to enact
legislation to significantly reduce the number of persons who have
their driver's license suspended and to establish a process for
persons with a current suspension to get their driving privileges
restored without first having to pay all court-ordered debt.
   Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: no.
State-mandated local program: no.


THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

  SECTION 1.  (a) The Legislature finds and declares all of the
following:
   (1) Driving in California is often described as a privilege, but
for millions of Californians it is an economic necessity. Each day
millions of Californians take to the road to go to work, drop off
their children at school and activities, go shopping, and visit
family. Without the ability to drive, millions of families cannot
afford to pay the cost of housing, pay utilities, put food on the
table, afford clothing for their children, or be able to save for
retirement. In short, driving is a fundamental need of virtually
every person in the state.
   (2) Unfortunately, millions of Californians have lost the ability
to drive legally. Their driver's licenses have been suspended, not
because they are a danger to public safety, but because they could
not pay fines associated with minor traffic tickets and other related
fees and assessments. In the past five years, the Department of
Motor Vehicles has suspended more than 2.7 million driver's licenses
for drivers' failure to appear in court or failure to make payments
ordered by a court. The Legislative Analyst's Office reports that
there is currently more than $10 billion in court-ordered,
uncollected debt in California and $8 billion of this amount is for
unpaid traffic violations.
   (3) For many families, a driver's license suspension is the
beginning of a descent into abject poverty for which there is no
escape. Legal services advocates report that once a person gets his
or her driver's license suspended in California, it is virtually
impossible for the driver's license to be restored until all the
unpaid fees, fines and assessments are completely paid. Many people
with a suspended driver's license are low income and can only pay the
debt off a little at a time. Others are unemployed or on public
assistance and cannot afford to make any payments. The state of New
Jersey did a study of persons with suspended driver's licenses and
found that 42 percent lost their jobs after their driver's licenses
were suspended and less than half of them were able to find new jobs;
88 percent experienced a loss of income.
   (4) The original rationale for suspending driver's licenses was to
compel persons who had committed a serious public safety violation
to correct his or her behavior. This rationale over time has been
extended to hundreds of nonpublic safety violations. As a report by
the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA),
"Best Practices Guide to Reducing Suspended Drivers" notes, all 50
states now suspend driver's licenses for nonhighway safety reasons.
The AAMVA report recommends that states repeal laws that lead to
driver's license suspensions for nonpublic safety reasons and replace
those suspensions with payment plans and wage garnishments to
collect court-ordered debt.
   (b) It is the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation to
significantly reduce the number of persons who have their driver's
licenses suspended and to establish a process for persons with
current suspensions to get their driving privileges restored without
first having to pay all court-ordered debt.                   
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