Roll through a Red, Fork over the Green - $490 Ticket Now!

Roll through a Red, Fork over the Green Print E-mail
Traffic Ticket Rage
By Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross  (Posted first at )

Like a lot of California drivers, Dave Soss just got a $490 lesson on how the state budget really works.

It all began when Soss, who lives in the East Bay, was ticketed Feb. 1 for rolling through a red light while making a right turn in Emeryville - and was hit with what he called a "mind-blowing" penalty.

For starters, there was the $100 base fine. Most of that goes to Emeryville, and the leftovers go to Alameda County.

Then comes the real hit:

-- A $100 state penalty - $70 of which is divvied up among a dozen programs, including crime-victim restitution, witness protection, a Department of Fish and Game preservation fund and even a fund for victims of traumatic brain injuries. The other $30 goes to the county's general fund.

-- A $70 county penalty that goes for automated fingerprint identification, court and jail construction and other programs.

-- A $20 penalty for a state DNA crime evidence collection program.

-- A $55 fee for more court construction.

-- A $20 assessment for the county's emergency medical system.

-- A $20 court security fee to pay for all those deputies and screening devices at the county's courthouses.

-- And a $20 surcharge that goes straight into the state's general fund.
But wait - there's more, including:

-- A brand new, $35 assessment that the Legislature approved last fall to help cover $5 billion in revenue bonds for even more courthouse construction - a program pushed by then-state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata.

-- A $1 night court fee.

-- And finally, a $49 fee for the privilege of signing up for traffic school. (More than half that fee was just added - again, to pay for Perata's pet courthouse renovations.)

Add it all up, and our red-light runner - whose infraction was caught on camera - is out $490.

Sticker-shocked Soss pondered community service to help pay it off. But he was told that would make him ineligible for traffic school - a course costing him another $15 online - which he needs to keep his record clean and his auto insurance from going up.

Of course, with ever-increasing numbers caught in the ticketing squeeze, courts now have an option to collect from errant motorists on the installment plan. Or allow them to defer payment.

With a $30 penalty fee, of course.  (Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross blog at ) ◘

Posted by erniemixon on 03/06/2009
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