Reducing Fines and Fees for Low-Income Drivers: Improving California’s Online Ability-to-Pay System

To address the inequitable assessment of fines and fees by traffic courts, the Judicial Council of California piloted the use of MyCitations. MyCitations allows drivers to request a reduced fine or alternative penalty, such as community service, online. Ideas 42 conducted research to understand the barriers low-income drivers face when using the system and developed materials and recommendations to improve use of the system. This report outlines that research and Ideas42’s design solutions which include: redesigning the court courtesy notice and notice of civil assessment; redesigning the court order to inform drivers about the reduced amount and next steps; and creating a text message reminder notice to encourage timely payments. The authors also make recommendations to further ensure MyCitations is a source of relief for low-income drivers.


  • Offer an automatic reduction on the amount due for using MyCitations.
  • Provide forgiveness options for homelessness, income limits, or consecutive payments.
  • Reduce or remove the fee to set up a payment plan.

You can access the full text of the report here.

For more guidance on improving ability to pay processes, read the Fine and Fees Justice Center’s First Steps Toward Equitable Fines and Fees Practices here

Samantha Hammer, Alissa Fishbane, Dinardo Rodriguez, Shannon McAuliffe