Most of us have been stopped for a traffic violation at one point or another. Some people are able to pay the fine, others hire an attorney to speak on their behalf, while some seek to get the case continued until they have the money to pay the fine. However, what happens when you are unable to pay a fine, even after a continuance or if you are unable to obtain an attorney? The truth of the matter is, some people are unable to pay a traffic fine or they are unable to appear in court because they are unable to get the time off at work and can’t afford an attorney. So what happens to those people?
When a Traffic Citation Turns into a Suspended License
According to California’s Department of Motor Vehicles, a suspended license means that your driving privileges have been temporarily withdrawn. The many reasons why your driver’s license could be suspended range from:
- Failing to appear in court after receiving a traffic citation
- Failing to pay a fine resulting from a failure to appear
- Not having proof of car insurance
- Failing to pay required child support payments
- Being caught driving when you are physically/mentally unfit to do so
On April 20th an article was released titled, “Suspended Driver’s License Disproportionately Affect Low-Income California Residents.” Within this article there is astounding evidence that one in six California drivers has had their license suspended because they failed to pay fines for traffic violations. That is 4.2 million people who are affected every day due to a suspended license. The study showed how escalating fines and penalties are driving poor people further into poverty because these people often times lose their jobs and are unable to pay their debt. The uncollected debt has now reached $10 billion and it neither helps “the system” nor the citizens of California. The state doesn’t get paid and the citizens become unemployed.
The Consequences of a Suspended License
A loss of a license ultimately means that people may lose their jobs because they cannot get to work because they are unable to drive and may not have the ability nor the means to use the busing system. Suspensions are not only fatal to the job market but also it further impedes the ability to pay their debt as well as it could potentially harm credit ratings. Once an initial deadline is missed, courts often times deny people the right to a hearing unless they can afford the total amount owed up front, and payment in full becomes the sole means for having a license reinstated.
According to California’s Vehicle Code 14601, it is considered a crime when a person KNOWS that their driver’s license has been suspended or revoked. In these cases, the prosecutor must be able to prove that you KNEW that you were driving with a suspended license. The penalty can range from imprisonment in a county jail for at least five days or a fine of at maximum $2,000 if multiple offenses exist. The duration of suspension depends on the reason you received it and can run anywhere from 30 days for minor infractions to one year for more serious offenses such as reckless driving.
Is This You or a Loved One?
When your driver’s license is suspended it creates a huge burden on you as well as those around you. A suspended license can lead you to unemployment which can create a downward financial spiral. If you are a loved one have been subjected to a suspended license and need help in getting your license reinstated, please do not hesitate to contact The Rodriguez Law Group. We would like to assist you in the process!