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California Drivers Will Now Get A Break On Unpaid Traffic Tickets

Busted. (Photo by Lucy Rendler-Kaplan via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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Drivers faced with brutally huge unpaid traffic fines will now be cut some slack with a new amnesty program in California.

Starting this Thursday, drivers with outstanding traffic ticket fines from before January 1, 2013, will get a discount of 50% to 80% on what they owe, reports the L.A. Times. Under the amnesty bill, passed by the California Legislature, there will also be an installment plan offered to help drivers pay those sometimes cripplingly high fines and fees. And if anyone lost their license because they couldn't afford to pay the fines, they'll be eligible to have it reinstated now.

Anyone with parking tickets, a DUI, a conviction for reckless driving or traffic fines from more recent years, however, is out of luck—the amnesty doesn't apply to those.

The amnesty was considered by lawmakers earlier this year, when civil rights and legal aid groups pointed out that over the past eight years roughly 4.2 million Californians had lost their licenses because they couldn't afford the mounting traffic fees. Many of those huge fees tacked on to traffic fines were added during an earlier budget crisis to help pay for the court system and other programs, according to the Times. For instance, base fines of $100 suddenly jumped to $500 and if the driver missed the payment deadline they would then owe $815, more than many could afford to pay in time.

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To participate in the program, drivers may be charged $50 to participate in the program (because they still have to get you somehow). And, of course, the DMV will charge $55 to reinstate a driver's license.

The amnesty program begins October 1st and will run through to March 31, 2017.