Sacramento Bee: Small traffic fines can lead to big problems for some Californians

Original article from the Sacramento Bee

BY Christopher Cadelago.

Christina Charles acknowledges she broke the law.

Between 2011 and 2012, Charles improperly stopped at a stop sign. She drove with a missing license plate and a taillight out.

Her license was suspended when she couldn’t pay for the tickets and failed to appear in court. Charles also was stopped for driving on the suspended license and without car insurance.

She eventually piled up $6,000 in debt.

Well over 4 million Californians have had their licenses revoked because they failed to pay traffic fines or appear in court, DMV records show. Annual suspensions rose during the recession as the cost of traffic-related citations increased.

A $100 ticket now can cost about $500 after fees and assessments, increasing to more than $800 if the driver misses an initial deadline to pay or appear.

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