California’s 2017 omnibus budget bill included a provision that ends the practice of suspending driver’s licenses for failure to pay fines and fees. The genesis of this budget bill language was Governor Jerry Brown’s proposed 2017-2018 Budget.
You can read the Public Safety section of the California 2017-18 Budget Summary here. The section about repeal of driver’s license suspension is on page 35, and that text is also copied below.
“In the past, when the State Penalty Fund has faced shortfalls, the solution has often been to further increase fines and penalties. While this approach increases revenues generated by those who pay the amount owed, it places an undue burden on those who cannot afford to pay. This approach has led to an increasing amount of fines and penalties going uncollected. For example, in 2008‑09, uncollected debt was $5.5 billion and grew to $9.7 billion in 2015‑16, a 76% increase.
One of the collection methods that courts can use to collect outstanding debt is to suspend driver’s licenses for failure to pay. There does not appear to be a strong connection between suspending someone’s driver’s license and collecting their fine or penalty. Often, the primary consequence of a driver’s license suspension is the inability to legally drive to work or take one’s children to school. Therefore, the Budget proposes to eliminate the statutory provisions related to suspending driver’s licenses for failure to pay fines and penalties.”