LAKE COUNTY, Calif. – If you have old unpaid traffic tickets, June is the last month to qualify for a special ticket amnesty program that is attempting to collect millions of dollars in unpaid fines across California.
The program – which ends Saturday, June 30 – offers a 50-percent reduction on qualifying old unpaid traffic infraction tickets.
“The amnesty program is a golden opportunity for drivers with old unpaid traffic tickets to clear their records at a reduced amount,” Margie Borjon-Miller, Administrative Office of the Courts, said in a written statement. “And it helps the courts, the state and local governments to generate revenues that would have otherwise gone uncollected.”
While no specific number will be available until after the program concludes, state finance officials estimate that millions of dollars could be collected. A final report to the legislature on the amnesty program is due this fall, according to state officials.
The Administrative Office of the Courts reported that superior courts throughout California already have resolved thousands of cases and collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid fees and fines as a result of the program, which began Jan. 1.
In the program's first three months, the Superior Court in Fresno County had collected about $92,000, the Tulare Court about $266,000, the Kings Court about $64,000, the Madera Court about $17,000, and the Stanislaus Court generated approximately $194,000 in revenue, the Administrative Office of the Courts reported.
From Jan. 1 through March 31, Lake County collected $61,989, according to Treasurer-Tax Collector Sandra Shaul, whose department oversees collections duties for the county.
In April and May, the county collected another $25,283, Shaul said. That's a five-month total of $87,272.
Shaul estimated that the county is likely to collect about $120,000 by the time the amnesty program ends.
But that’s just a fraction of what’s owed to the county, according to Shaul.
“The total delinquent court debt is monumental; 34,707 cases totaling $29,947,000,” Shaul told Lake County News. “Of those, there are 12,794 amnesty eligible cases totaling $11,878,283.”
Most of the delinquent cases are more than 10 years old and have been sent to at least two collection agencies not including the tax collector, Shaul said.
“The oldest fines ones have been to three collection agencies,” she said. “There are more new fines each month than fines paid.”
Parking tickets, DUIs and reckless driving citations are not eligible, the Administrative Office of the Courts reported. Drivers should contact the superior court in the county where the citation occurred to verify if they are eligible for the amnesty program.
While the program ends June 30, the last business day of the month is Friday, June 29.
Anyone with questions about amnesty or whether they have eligible fines, can call the Lake County Collection Division at 707-263-2583.
Shaul said all amnesty payments made between now and June 30 must be in full with secured funds.
Email Elizabeth Larson at email@example.com .