Scofflaw. It means what you might think: a person who scoffs at, or flouts, a law (particularly a law that’s hard to enforce). Starting New Year’s Day, 2012, a new California law offers amnesty to all those scofflaws with unpaid traffic tickets dated before January 1, 2009. SB 857 will open a six-month window in which the state will forgive 50% of the scofflaw’s debt, as long as he or she pays the other half.
According to the LA Daily News, on Tuesday the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted 4-0 to urge the California Judicial Council’s Administrative Office of the Court to amend the law to include people who have already paid a portion of their pre-2009 fines, with Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky stating that it is “grossly unfair and ridiculous” that “people who made an effort to pay something down on their ticket will not be the beneficiaries of amnesty, while people who totally stuck it to the authorities and paid nothing on their tickets are eligible for amnesty.” The amnesty will not be available for fines related to parking violations, reckless driving, driving under the influence, or by drivers with outstanding misdemeanors or felonies. And sorry, that traffic ticket you got last week doesn’t count.
Is offering this kind of amnesty an invitation for future abuse, or will the fact that fines double and triple over time continue to keep most people in line? Do you think that people who’ve opted not to pay their tickets for the last two years will be take advantage of the amnesty, or continue not to pay? What are other ways you think the state could collect the amount owed by the offenders?
Zev Yaroslavsky, Los Angeles County Supervisor 3rd District