September 26, 2013
LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The
of a traffic citation in Southern California and statewide has risen
dramatically over the last decade, according to state records.
KNX 1070′s Jon Baird reports even common infractions such as running a
red light can cost drivers around $500 or more with fees and penalties.
While base fines for traffic offenses have remained relatively steady
over the past two decades, assessments like $20 for emergency medical
services, $60 for traffic , and another $50 for court construction have nearly quadrupled ticket costs since 1993, according to the Judicial Council of California.
A red light infraction — which cost $103 in 1993 and $340 in 2003 —
is now $490 for California drivers, while rolling through a stop sign
will cost $238, nearly double the $130 fee from ago.
Much of the sharp rise in fines is attributed to tacked-on fees known
as penalty assessments, which are set by state lawmakers in Sacramento.
Revenue from such fees is typically earmarked for a wide variety of
projects from criminal investigations to court construction, according
to Judicial Council.
As fees inch higher, more working-class drivers who are unable to pay
up are going to court to challenge tickets, which in turn is clogging
up a court system already hampered by layoffs and closures statewide.
One Southland driver filling up his tank said the fees are excessive in the face of steadily climbing gas prices.
“They wanna suck everything out of us, man,” he said. “They’re gonna get you one way or another.”
Despite any potential public outrage, lawmakers are unlikely to reverse course on the penalty assessments after a 2006 report (PDF) by the California Research Bureau showed traffic violations can net more than $500 million annually for the state.