The city of San Francisco teamed up with the San Francisco Superior Court to clear up to 88,000 outstanding holds that had been placed on drivers’ licenses due to missed traffic court dates. On the assumption that people missed the court dates because they couldn’t afford to pay the tickets, which are among the most expensive in the nation, the city did not lower traffic fines but instead concluded that as an act of economic justice it would eliminate the driver’s license holds.
“We collaborated with the courts to take this action because we believe that suspending people’s driver’s licenses for missing their traffic court date places an undue burden on low-income residents, creates barriers to employment, and can keep people in a cycle of poverty and debt that is hard to escape,” said San Francisco Treasurer José Cisneros. “Of course we need to have consequences and penalties when people break the law or don’t follow the rules. In the work we’ve done locally on fine and fee reform and with the Financial Justice Project, we’ve come to realize that we can hold people accountable without putting them in financial distress.”
The Superior Court did recently adopt guidelines that would discount citations to people with lower incomes.
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