California Court Leaders to Send Proposal to State Legislature to Decriminalize Some Traffic Tickets

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L.A. County sheriff’s Deputy Elton Simmons aims his speed gun at a motorist in La Mirada in June 2012. (Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

California’s court leaders plan to send the Legislature a proposal to make traffic violations civil offenses, removing them from the criminal arena.

The plan would protect drivers from possible arrest and massive fines for failing to show up on the date written on a ticket.

The proposal, strongly backed by California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, is in the drafting stage. Court leaders hope to work with the Legislature next year to adopt a final plan.

Cantil-Sakauye said the intention is to have minor traffic citations “decided in civil court, so the penalties, the consequences, and maybe the emotions, won’t run so high.”

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