The San Francisco Superior Court has eliminated $50 million in outstanding debt for people who owe “civil assessments,” $300 late fees charged by traffic court when people miss a deadline to pay or appear.
Nearly 180,000 traffic court late fees, or “civil assessments” of $300 issued before July 1, 2022 have been canceled already with the fees issued after that date capped at $100.
Anne Stuhldreher, who heads the San Francisco Treasurer’s Financial Justice Project which advocated for the debt relief measure, said some city residents may not have received letters informing them their late fee had been wiped.
Anyone who wants to see how much they owe on their San Francisco traffic ticket should go to this page and enter their driver’s license number.
The debt relief measure was enacted by California Assembly Bill 199, which was passed on June 30.
Under the measure, money from the now-lowered $100 late fees will no longer fund local court operations–instead going to the statewide general fund–to remove the incentive for local courts to raise revenue by giving more tickets or charging more late fees.
“California should not fund our local courts by asking the courts to impose fees that they benefit from,” said Stuhldreher.
The Financial Justice Project co-authored a March report that found civil assessments fall hardest on Black and brown people because they are much more likely than white people to be pulled over for the same driving infractions.
“Elimination of this debt provides critical relief to tens of thousands of San Franciscans and is a significant step in the right direction,” said Zal Shroff, Senior Staff Attorney at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area.
San Francisco Superior Court has been contacted for comment.
Garrett Leahy can be reached at [email protected]