California Has a System That Punishes the Poor Through Traffic Violations—Civil Rights Groups Are Starting to Change That

Solano County traffic violators will get a chance to challenge the unreasonably high fees that send them into debt.

Feature (California)

Adam Hudson
September 14, 2017

Tags: Debtors Prison, Driver's license suspension

Organizations mentioned/involved: Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area (LCCR), Bay Area Legal Aid (San Francisco)


A recent lawsuit in California’s Solano County Superior Court successfully challenged the state’s policy of holding traffic violators to unreasonable fines, regardless of their ability to pay. Civil liberties groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights (LCCR) were part of the suit against the court. The settlement provides a template for challenging exorbitant traffic fines and byzantine fee structures that trap people in poverty.