Kitia Harris, a 25 year-old with an eight year-old daughter, suffers from interstitial cystitis, a chronic medical condition that makes her unable to work. Her driver’s license was automatically suspended because she owed $276 for unpaid court fines and fees.
This report is based on the authors’ research on traffic courts and driver’s license suspension practices in the San Francisco Bay Area. It details how much revenue courts collect from fines and fees, the harmful impacts those fees have on low-income Californians, and also advances several policy reform recommendations.
In late 2016, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors directed the Office of the Treasurer and Tax Collector to create a Fines and Fees Task Force (staffed by the Treasurer’s Financial Justice Project) to study the impact of fines and fees on San Franciscans & propose relevant reforms. About six months later, the Task Force published this initial report in order to provide an overview of fines and fees in San Francisco as well as an array of reform recommendations.
The Criminal Justice Debt Reform Builder is an online tool that allows users to quickly explore and assess fines and fees reform statutes in all 50 states.
This review of law and policy is the first-year report of a five-year study comprising quantitative and qualitative research that provides a detailed understanding of how fines and fees are imposed and enforced across the United States.
Louisiana House Bill 249 protects people convicted of a felony and their dependents from facing undue hardship because of fines and fees.
The Mississippi Department of Public Safety made a number of discretionary changes regarding driver’s license suspensions for unpaid fines and fees -- they stopped suspending licenses for nonpayment, restored licenses, and waived the $100 reinstatement fee for those drivers.
In March 2017, New Orleans nonprofit Stand with Dignity sponsored a Warrant Clinic in New Orleans. Over 1,200 people (who owed an average of $8,000 in fines and fees) participated in the clinic.
The Council of the District of Columbia unanimously amended the District of Columbia Traffic Adjudication Act of 1978 to eliminate the suspension of drivers’ licenses for unpaid traffic debt or failure to appear at hearings.
This bill abolishes driver’s license suspensions for failure to pay fines and fees imposed in criminal cases, except traffic offenses.