Bill aims to make traffic tickets based on income - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Bill aims to make traffic tickets based on income

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There could be a big change on the way to the cost of traffic tickets. A new bill making its way through the California state legislature would base the price you pay on your income.

SB185 argues a ticket that would be a minor annoyance to wealthy people could be potentially detrimental to lower-income earners.

"As a college student, I don't make that much money. A traffic ticket would be a big deal for me, so it'd be helpful if it were lower for me," said Annalies Snowhook, Cal Poly student.  

Here's how the legislation would work: Let's say you get a ticket and it's more than you can afford. You would just need to prove to a judge you need a discount.

While this bill would not raise ticket prices for people with more money, it would mean two different people who run the same red light could pay a much different price.

"The law is meant to be universal, it's meant to be non-discriminatory and it's supposed to be blind. The bill saying you can charge an amount for a ticket, you should have that same amount regardless of what you make or don't make," said Neil Stuckley, Nipomo resident. 

Some worry this might encourage bad behavior.

"The reason I don't speed is because of that fear of 'I don't have $400 right now to pay it off,' so it could be abused," said Megan Treat, San Luis Obispo resident.  

The bill argues this will be more efficient in getting people to actually pay their bills. A 2015 study found that California now has more than $10 billion  in uncollected court-ordered debt, much of it from low-income people who can't afford to pay, according to a report by the Western Center on Law and Poverty. 

The bill would not apply to DUI or reckless driving. It would also provide a break for those who fail to show up to their traffic infraction court date by letting them reschedule without a penalty.

The state senate is expected to vote on this bill in June.

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