If you have an unpaid traffic ticket that was due before Jan. 1, 2013, you're probably eligible for a steep discount.
That's thanks to a proposal by state Sen. Bob Hertzberg (aka that politician who's always hugging everyone), which was integrated into the budget last year. Under the new law, which went into effect last October, anyone who has a traffic ticket that was due before the start of 2013 can pay the ticket at a discount of 50 or 80 percent, depending on the person's income.
And anyone who has had his driver's license suspended for failing to pay the ticket can pay the ticket at a discount and automatically get his license activated.
Major violations such as reckless driving and driving under the influence are not eligible. But most other infractions are, including driving without a license, driving without registration tags and speeding.
To apply for the program, go to this website.
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The fee for an unpaid moving violation can easily rise to more than $1,000. Failure to appear in court often results in additional fees and the suspension of a driver's license.
More than 58,000 people have received discounts — or "amnesty" — under the program, and holds on nearly 40,000 drivers' licenses have been lifted. The DMV estimates there are at least 3.3 million Californians eligible for the traffic ticket discounts, and those unpaid tickets are worth an estimated $2.8 billion.
Hertzberg has proposed another bill that would prohibit the suspension of driver's licenses for minor infractions, such as failure to appear in court or failure to pay a fine. According to a study by the Western Center on Law and Poverty, more than 4 million Californians have suspended licenses for such infractions.
Now if only they'd propose a bill for parking ticket amnesty!