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State Assembly Passes Proposal to End Parking Ticket Death Spiral

May 31, 2017 (916) 319-2036

State Assembly Passes Proposal to End Parking Ticket Death Spiral

SACRAMENTO- Today, legislation by Assemblyman Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale) to give low-income drivers relief from parking ticket debt passed the California State Assembly. The bill would create an equitable system for low-income drivers to pay their parking tickets through monthly payments.

“Assemblyman Lackey’s bill is a long overdue reform that allows people to be able to keep their car registered while they pay off their parking tickets. Just because someone is on a fixed income or low income shouldn’t be a barrier to registering their car as long as they are making payments on the ticket,” said Michael Herald, Director of Policy Advocacy for the Western Center on Law and Poverty.

A growing trend by cities to monetize parking operations has created a huge problem for low-income Californians. Currently if requested by a city, DMV refuses to allow drivers to renew their registration until all parking tickets are paid. However, if a person cannot afford to pay the ticket, he or she not only accrues late penalties on the parking infraction, but will also receive additional penalties for failing to register their vehicle—leaving a large debt and no legal way to drive.

A $65 ticket can quickly turn into over a $500 problem with late fees and registration charges. To provide context, a 2016 survey by the Federal Reserve found 46% of American families would struggle to meet emergency expenses of $400.

“It’s shocking how many Californians owe hundreds of dollars in parking ticket fines and late fees that they simply cannot afford to pay,” said Lackey. “Local governments need to create fair payment programs that allow drivers to responsibly pay their debts and this bill would make sure that happens.”

If enacted into law, the legislation will require cities to offer monthly payment programs and reduced fines for low-income drivers before DMV is allowed to withhold their car registration. While some cities currently offer payment programs, they are often difficult to access and include additional upfront fees so they offer little practical relief.


Lackey represents the 36th Assembly District, which contains portions of Kern, San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties, including the cities of Lancaster, Palmdale, Quartz Hill, Acton, Littlerock, Pearblossom, Mojave, Rosamond, California City, Phelan and Piñon Hills.