California may cut late fees that add up to $300 to traffic tickets

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In California, the consequences of ignoring a speeding ticket are much costlier than the ticket itself. Paying a ticket late can cause an additional fee of $300. California has one of the highest late fees in the nation.

Gov. Gavin Newsom in his January budget proposed splitting the civil assessment fee in half, to a maximum of $150, and spending $50 million to backfill court budgets. However, some lawmakers and the Debt Free Justice coalition are for the full elimination of fees.

Martin Hoshino, administrative director of the Judicial Council said in a statement:

It disproportionately affected low-income criminal defendants. We’re grateful for the efforts of both the Governor’s administration and the Legislature to reform the system and provide necessary backfill funding for the judicial branch. We support the Governor’s proposal and are committed to working with him and with legislative leaders in the coming weeks as they finalize the state budget.

The late fees generate nearly $100 million annually as per estimates, and the courts retain more than half of the money. Money collected from the extra charges bolsters court coffers, leading advocates to accuse the state of paying for its judicial system by charging those who can least afford to pay the fines.

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