Politics

Traffic fine policy banned in California court system

County courts have been banned from requiring people to pay traffic fines before they can contest their tickets.
County courts have been banned from requiring people to pay traffic fines before they can contest their tickets.
Photo by Vit Brunner via Flickr Creative Commons

The governing body for California's court system has banned county courts from requiring people to pay traffic fines before they can contest their tickets.

The Judicial Council abolished the practice in a unanimous vote on Monday. The Sacramento Bee reports Sunday that many county courts, including San Francisco and Los Angeles, do not require so-called bail payments before motorists can appear in traffic court.

But the American Civil Liberties Union sent letters in April to eight Northern and Central California counties where it found the practice was stated on the counties' websites. Those counties included Fresno and Shasta.

The group said a court appearance is a right that should not be contingent on someone's ability to pay.

Monday's vote comes as Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed amnesty for residents who can't afford traffic fines and penalties.