When traffic court fees snowball, East Bay clinic helps people dig out of debt

Monday, June 5, 2017

East Bay Times – By Malaika Fraley

BERKELEY — When you live hand to mouth in the high-priced Bay Area, the cost of an unexpected traffic ticket can seem like a life ruiner and, for some people, it can be.

For a 24-year-old Bay Area resident named Joshua, it is six overdue tickets costing more $4,500 that are stopping him from straightening out his life after a difficult personal time. Unable to move out of a homeless shelter and into a permanent residence because of the debt, he turned to East Bay Community Law Center for help.

“I want to get a place to stay and I want to get my life together but I have all this debt on my back and I don’t make enough money to pay off everything. It stresses me out,” said Joshua, who asked his last name not be used.

East Bay Community Law Center (EBCLC) provides free legal aid to people struggling with debt from parking and traffic tickets and associated penalties from the courts, collection agencies and the state Department of Motor Vehicles. This fall will mark one a year since the EBCLC launched a traffic clinic from 9 a.m. to noon Wednesday at its Berkeley office at 3130 Shattuck Ave., and a walk-up clinic outside the traffic court at the Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse in Oakland on the last Friday of every month.

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