Alameda County Traffic Court Eliminates Harsh License Suspension Policy That Punished The Poor

Thursday, November 12, 2015

East Bay Express – By Sam Levin

In April, California civil rights groups documented the many ways in which the state’s traffic courts trap people in poverty with exorbitant fines for minor infractions and punitive license suspensions when they miss a single payment or court date. In response, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law an “amnesty program” that began in October and is designed to provide some relief to low-income people suffering from insurmountable debts and license suspensions. But as I outlined in this week’s paper, legal aid groups say the program is significantly flawed and inaccessible to many of the state’s most vulnerable residents — particularly in Alameda County, which has adopted a number of harsh policies.

Last week, after I told Alameda County Superior Court Executive Officer Chad Finke about the case of Oakland resident Clive Salmon — who has been unable to reap any benefits from the governor’s amnesty program — Finke said the court would revisit its policies. Now, Finke said, officials have decided to eliminate one of its overly punitive rules that has blocked Salmon from taking advantage of the amnesty initiative.

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