Traffic control begin in the 1920’s and today they account for an important aspect of most state codes.
With over 90 percent of residents in America age 16 years or older with a license to drive, and more than one vehicle registered to each driver, there is no wonder that trillion of miles traveled each year, equate to millions of traffic violations issued. Traffic control easily is an issue of enormous proportions. There is no doubt traffic tickets are like unwelcomed gifts. Traffic tickets are used as a deterrence. Traffic tickets are also teachable moments for a motorist who is unknowingly aware of a problem that they have while driving. Traffic tickets are also ways of behavior modification for motorists who willingly break traffic laws. Traffic tickets are also costly depending on the motorists who receives the violation. The effect of traffic tickets varies disproportionately among social and economic status.
Traffic Tickets and its Cost
A recent report on California’s outrageously priced traffic tickets, confirm to residents what they already know about moving violations. Traffic violations disproportionately affect the poor, who cannot afford to fork out the monies for violations. Then it starts a ripple effect of consequences such as job loss, losing driver’s license, or restriction of vehicle registration. Minorities are at a disadvantage because they are more likely to be stopped by cops. Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area states that the report shines light on the state legislature efforts to generate multiple add on fees in order to raise revenues without having to do the obvious of raising taxes. For example, the additional add on fees make a typical $100 stoplight ticket turn into a traffic ticket that costs $490, according to the LCCR’s report, Paying More for Being Poor: Bias and Disparity in California’s Traffic Court System.
In America, California accounts for one of the top states with the highest traffic violation and infraction prices. Other states who compare are New York, Connecticut, Texas, and Wisconsin. A standard red-light ticket is three times the national average amount in California for similar citations in other states. When considering late fees and penalties, we have to make note California’s most expensive fees in the nation. Due to legislature not wanting to be viewed as the bad people for passing new taxes, they retain the revenue-generating act, which unfairly affects the poor.
More money more problems
California’s population consists of more low-income families than high-income families than any other state. So one can generally assume that conflict comes in when a lower-income motorists is citied for a violation having to choose between food for their families or paying the courts, government, and police. The California Department of Motor Vehicle reported in 2015, that over 4 million driver’s licenses were suspended for failure to appear or pay for a citation. The loss affected one in six of California drivers. The common consequence of not having a driver license resulted in loss of employment for many residents. Approximately 5.2 million positions in California involve daily driving, that unfairly affects those of color who may also be facing other issues such as discrimination.
Information obtained from scattered data on racial bias in California traffic stops shows that African-American and Latino in counties of Sacramento, Fresno, and San Diego are highly likely to be pulled over for traffic stop. The traffic stops generally do not have anything to do with violating the law but more so because they are people of color. Ironically the disproportionately issuance of tickets are hurting the people who represent the largest ethnic demographic and racial group in the state. Latinos are worth more for taxes generated by being employed with cars than they are without income received from tickets issued. Predictions are clear that if California amends its policy, and refrain from suspending licenses for failure to pay, the state can generate $70 million to $140 million in additional tax revenue for residents that are actually able to get to work and earn more income, rather than taking their licenses.
On another note, a positive aspect was the California ticket amnesty program that ended on April 30, 2017. The program was known for the payment plans that provided relief for drivers to set up payments and get their licenses back. SB 185 called for the end of driver’s license suspension based on the inability to pay court fines. Other efforts such as AB 412, brings a halt to the additional late fees that occur for those who cannot afford to pay their traffic tickets. The adversity in fines and penalties continue to be too tough and expensive for those who are trying to live life on the necessities. The solution is an unbiased citation system that does not place exaggerated quota requirements on officers but controls fairly, through consist regulation, and allows relief of monetary problems across the board.