Earlier in 2021, in the state of California, more than 400,000 residents had their driver's licenses reinstated after a court ruling declared that the state was unjustly and illegally penalizing people who failed to appear in court for traffic tickets. This problem of revoking driver's licenses and charging residents hefty fines and court fees has been a recurring issue but has recently received more media attention due to limitations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic has caused many fears, both on a global and national front; including fears of leaving the house, being around others, and large crowds. The pandemic has also affected many families financially due to job layoffs, putting them in a position where making ends meet isn't as simple as it once was.

This lawsuit sought to stop the California Department of Motor Vehicles from illegally suspending driver's licenses of California residents. The case was part of a more significant effort conducted by advocacy organizations to decrease California traffic fines and court fees, disproportionately targeting low-income families and communities of color.

California reportedly has some of the highest traffic ticket penalties and fees in the country. The state and local counties add additional fees and base fees, making getting a traffic ticket in California quite an inconvenience. A ticket for running a red light has a base fine of only $100, but after state and local fees, the same ticket ends up costing the driver around $500 and potentially more than $800 if the driver misses a court date or a payment deadline. More than three million traffic infraction citations are distributed every year in California, and many of these citations are issued to minorities, reinforcing that there is an over-policing of black and brown minority communities in California.

This lawsuit began in 2016 when the DMV was sued by Bay Area residents whose licenses were suspended after failing to appear in court and/or pay a traffic ticket. In June of 2020, the court ruled in the Bay Area resident's favor, stating that the state was not justified in suspending the drivers' licenses without formal notice from traffic courts and that their failure to appear in court was willful.

As a result of this monumental case, the DMV lifted license suspensions on 555,000 driver's licenses in the state of California. According to court records, the lead plaintiff in the case, Guillermo Hernandez, had been fined in 2013 for not renewing his driver's license information and driving without a vehicle registration. Hernandez reports that he had attempted to take care of the ticket but was told by court officials that there was no registered citation in the court system. He later found out while making an effort to renew his license that there was a hold on his license for over 900 dollars in court fines and fees. Hernandez's story is one of many indicating a broken system profiting from the backs of marginalized communities.

This court ruling has opened the door for many positive changes in California but depending on your circumstance, it may be beneficial to contact an Oakland criminal defense lawyer for legal guidance or representation. Court officials and lawmakers have eliminated license suspensions for failing to pay a traffic ticket and have since developed payment plans. Through these plans, those with fines may pay smaller payments over some time to decrease the financial burden of the fine. The court system has also developed a project that makes it easier for low-income drivers to request a fee reduction if they receive a traffic ticket. The courts will consider a driver's income and decide whether a lower penalty is appropriate. The state of California created these virtual ticket systems to allow drivers to potentially get their ticket fees reduced without having to physically come into the courthouse.

Author's Bio: 

I am Anna Clark a pro-level blogger with years of experience in writing for multiple industries. I have extensive knowledge of Food, Fitness, Healthcare, business, fashion, and many other popular niches. I have post graduated in arts and have a keen interest in traveling.