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What sliding-scale traffic fines could mean for low-income drivers




A parking ticket is seen on the windshield of a FedEx truck on January 21, 2011 in San Francisco, California.
A parking ticket is seen on the windshield of a FedEx truck on January 21, 2011 in San Francisco, California.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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Getting a traffic ticket is a stressful event for everyone.

But for low-income drivers, the burden of paying those fines could mean jail time, job loss and family strain. It also means unpaid fines to the city. As reported by the New York Times, Senator Bob Hertzberg, D-San Fernando is proposing a new bill he hopes will change that. Senate Bill 185 would apply to people who make $30,000 or less annually, and would only cover vehicle code violations.

But is this really the most fair solution for traffic rule violators? Opponents of the bill argue that SB 185 diminishes responsibility of the driver. And there are also questions about how the law would be implemented.

*This segment has been updated with a correction. Our guest, Emily Owens, is not an opponent of SB 185.

Guests:

Mike Herald, director of policy advocacy at the Western Center on Law & Poverty, an organization of attorneys and legal scholars from UCLA, USC and Loyola law schools which works toward justice and system-wide change to secure housing, health care, racial justice and a strong safety net for low-income Californians

Emily Owens, associate professor in the Department of Criminology, Law and Society at UC Irvine; she is also a professor of economics



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