Fighting a traffic ticket in California might soon be less of a pain.
SB 405, a bill on Governor Jerry Brown’s desk, would prohibit courts from charging drivers a fine or fee before they contest their citation.
In some counties, people must pay the full citation, which can be several hundred dollars, before they can schedule a hearing to contest the ticket.
Supporters call SB 405 one step toward increasing access to justice, especially for the poor.
Christine Sun of the American Civil Liberties Union says pre-trial fees block access to the courts for the poor, at everyone’s expense.
“It’s not good for California. It doesn’t make any sense to punish people simply because they are too poor to pay these fines and fees," Sun told Capital Public Radio last week.
More than four million Californians have had their driver licenses revoked for failure to pay traffic fines or appear in court. Sun says losing a license can mean losing a job.
The state’s court system approved temporary amnesty for pre-trial fees this spring after Governor Jerry Brown made room in the budget.
The measure now on Brown's desk was authored by Sen. Bob Hertzberg, D-Los Angeles. It easily passed both houses of the Legislature.
Sen. Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber, was the sole lawmaker to oppose it. He could not be reached for comment on Friday.
The governor has until October 11 to take action on the bill.