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Stopped, Fined, Arrested - Racial Bias in Policing and Traffic Courts in California, EBCLC, 2016

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April 2016 | www.ebclc.org/backontheroad

Acknowledgements
Contributors
Stephen Bingham,

Michael Herald,

Staff Attorney, Bay Area Legal Aid, retired

Policy Advocate, WCLP

Mari Castaldi,

Dana Isaac,

Program Coordinator, EBCLC

Thurgood Marshall Fellow, LCCR

Elisa Della-Piana,

Alex Kaplan,

Legal Director, LCCR

Law and Public Policy Student, EBCLC

Meredith Desautels,

Brittany Stonesifer,

Staff Attorney, LCCR

Staff Attorney, LSPC

Antionette Dozier,

Theresa Zhen,

Senior Attorney, WCLP

Skadden Fellow, ANWOL

Kristina Harootun,

Ford Foundation Fellow, LCCR

Special thanks to
Assemblymember Jones
Sawyer and Marvin Deon

Ian Haney-Lopez, John H. Boalt
Professor of Law, Berkeley Law

Candice Francis,
Communications Director,
LCCR

Senator Robert Hertzberg
and staff

Tirien Steinbach, Executive
Director, EBCLC

Advancement Project

Building Men of Color

Debt Free SF

All of Us or None - Los Angeles

Voices for Civil Justice

Bay Area Legal Aid

Contra Costa County
Public Defender

Mercy Albaran

Stephanie Flores

Jonathan Recinos

Ashley Artmann

Anisha Gandhi

Mona Tawatao

Cynthia Anderson Barker

Jon Haveman

Katie Tonkovich

Melissa Colon

David Kaplan

Heidi Quach

Bo Ericsson

Edber Macedo

Thomas Watson

Sofia Espinoza

Dalia Nava

Meredith Fenton

Veryl Pow

All the clients and advocates
who shared their stories with us

Table Of Contents
Executive Summary.........................................................1
I.	 The Problem: Racial Disparities in License
Suspensions and Traffic Arrests..........................4
A.	 Overview of Previous Research on Traffic Stops and
	Traffic Courts in California						4
Inequality in Traffic Stops and Searches					
4
B.	 New Data Shows Disproportionate License Suspension and
	
Arrest Rates for Low-Income People of Color			
6
1.	 License Suspensions based on FTA/FTP, correlated with household
income and race (Dataset A) 	
2.	 County Case Studies (Datasets B and C) 	

7
8

II.	The Data Explained............................................................ 21
A.	

Inequality in Policing: The Role of Implicit and Explicit Bias	 21

B.	 Inequality in Policing Leads to Unequal Debt Burden for
	Families of Color								21
C.	 Inequality in Court: Current Fees and Court Procedures
	Compound Racial Disparities						22
D.	

Inequality in Arrests for Driving with A Suspended License	 24

III.	The Impact: Suspended Licenses................................. 25
A.	

Persistent and Ongoing Barriers to Employment		

26

B.	 Individual Loss of Liberty and Erosion of Community Trust
	in Law Enforcement							28

IV.	 RECOMMENDATIONS............................................................31
Recommendation #1 - Abolish the Use of Driver’s License
Suspension as a Court-Ordered Debt Collection Tool			

31

Recommendation #2 - Stop the Criminalization of People Who
Cannot Afford to Pay Fines and Fees 						31

Recommendation #3 - Reduce Fines, Fees and Assessments for
Low-Income People and Ensure Equal Access to Justice 		

32

Recommendation #4 - End the Over-Policing of Communities of Color
and Low-Income Communities 						33

CONCLUSION.........................................................................34
APPENDIX 1: Methodology							35
Dataset A – DMV records regarding license suspension rates
due to FTA/FTP								35
Dataset B – Los Angeles County and San Francisco County arrest
location and race data							36
Dataset C – San Joaquin County arrest data					

APPENDIX 2: Full list of court-based solutions 				

37
37

A.	
Ensure that access to the courts and due process do not
	depend on income.							37
B.	
Standardize payment plans. 						38
C.	
	

Reduce the financial burden of citation fines and court fees for
low-income people based on their “ability to pay.” 			

38

D. 	
	

Extend and improve the current Traffic Amnesty Program to make
it more accessible to low-income people.				

39

E.	
Automate procedures to reinstate suspended licenses after a 				
	
certain period of time or after the court has discharged the 					
	underlying debt. 							39
F.	
	

Redirect the revenue from civil assessment penalties to the state 				
general fund to eliminate conflict of interest. 				
40

G.	
Reduce the burden of license suspensions for people being 					
	
released from jail or prison who are struggling towards successful
	community reentry. 							40

ENDNotes.............................................................................41

Executive Summary
Across the country, low-income people who commit minor offenses are saddled with fines, fees and penalties that pile up, driving them deeper into poverty. What’s worse, they are arrested and jailed for nonpayment, increasing the risk of losing their jobs or their homes.
Stopped, Fined, Arrested - Racial Bias in Policing and Traffic Courts in California brings to light a disturbing
truth that remains ever present in the lives of Californians: there are dramatic racial and socioeconomic
disparities in driver’s license suspensions and arrests related to unpaid traffic fines and fees.
Public records from the California Department of Motor Vehicles and U.S. Census data demonstrate that
in primarily Black and Latino communities, driver’s license suspension rates range as high as five times the
state average. Moreover, data collected from 15 police and sheriff’s departments across California show that
Black motorists are far more likely to be arrested for driving with a suspended license for failure to pay an
infraction citation than White motorists. Never before has this volume of data been available for the public
to analyze.
This new data and interactive maps show:
•	 Rates of driver’s license suspensions due to a failure to appear or pay a ticket are directly
correlated with poverty indicators and with race. The highest suspension rates are found in
neighborhoods with high poverty rates and high percentages of Black or Latino residents.
ɦɦ The Bay View/Hunter’s Point neighborhood in San Francisco, zip code 94124, has
a relatively high rate of poverty (23.5%), the highest percentage of Black residents
in San Francisco (35.8%) and a suspension rate of 6.7%, more than three times the
state average. Neighboring zip code 94123, which includes the Marina District, has a
substantially lower poverty rate (5.9%), a low percentage of Black residents (1.5%) and
a suspension rate five times below the state average (0.4%.).
•	 Black and Latino motorists are disproportionately arrested for driving with a suspended license
and for warrants for failure to appear or pay on an infraction citation.
ɦɦ In the City and County of San Francisco, the population is 5.8% Black, yet 48.7%
of arrests for a “failure to appear/pay” traffic court warrant are of Black drivers
(over-represented by 8.4x). White people are 41.2% of San Francisco’s residents,
yet only 22.7% of those arrested for driving with a suspended license (underrepresented by 0.6x).
ɦɦ In Los Angeles County, Black people are 9.2% of the population yet 33% of those
arrested for driving with a suspended license (over-represented by 3.6x). White people
are 26.8% of the county’s residents, yet only 14.8% of those arrested for driving with a
suspended license (under-represented by 0.6x).

1 | Back on the Road California - www.ebclc.org/backontheroad 			

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In April 2015, member organizations of Back on the Road California1 released Not Just a Ferguson Problem: How
Traffic Courts Drive Inequality in California. The report detailed how revenue collection incentives have turned
California traffic courts into a two-tiered system that works for people who have money and fails those without.
It showed that significantly increased fines and penalties, combined with policies that required full payment of
all fines and fees before the validity of a citation could be challenged, resulted in over 4.2 million suspended
driver’s licenses simply because people could not afford to pay or fight an infraction ticket.
Not Just a Ferguson Problem attracted wide national attention to the ways that citations and license
suspensions disparately impact low-income individuals and families in California. In response to the mounting
public pressure, California’s Governor Jerry Brown spearheaded the creation of a time-limited Statewide
Traffic Ticket Amnesty Program, making it easier for many Californians to seek reduction of their traffic fines
and reinstatement of their licenses. The state’s Chief Justice, Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye, also put issues of court
access on the forefront of the state’s judicial planning agenda.
While these actions represent significant progress, they fail to adequately address the underlying racial and
economic injustices of California’s debt collection and license suspensions policies and traffic court practices.
In California, it remains a misdemeanor offense to drive with a suspended license, even if the sole reason
for the suspension is an inability to pay a citation fine. Judicial officers can issue bench warrants for the
individual’s failure to appear or pay an infraction citation. Individuals who cannot afford to pay an infraction
citation are being arrested, jailed, and prosecuted, and are losing their licenses and their livelihoods. The
communities impacted by these policies are disproportionately communities of color.
From the initial traffic stop to the driver’s license suspension for failure to pay an infraction ticket, and finally
to the arrest for driving with a suspended license, our new data shows statistically significant racial and
socioeconomic disparities. There is growing understanding that both implicit and explicit bias in the policies
and practices of the police and courts contribute significantly to systemic racial inequities.2
Stopped, Fined, Arrested situates license suspensions and arrests in the broader context of systemic racial bias
in policing and courts, and builds upon the findings of our first report, which showed the harsher impacts that
low-income people face in California’s “pay-to-play” justice system.
Stopped, Fined, Arrested also highlights the immediate and long-lasting detrimental impacts of these current
policies and practices on California’s residents, families, communities, economy and public trust in law
enforcement and the courts. From income and job loss to reduced health, psychological harm and family
separation, arrests and incarceration due to unpaid infraction debt carries significant collateral consequences
that burden California’s economy and judicial system while doing very little to further public safety or the
interests of justice.
Over-policing, license suspensions and the subsequent arrests due to inability to pay come at a great cost to
our state’s resources, to public safety, to the fair administration of justice and, as this report documents, to
people and communities across the state. These great costs demand comprehensive changes to California’s
court system and policing policies.

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This is a problem we can solve in California. Our recommendations:
1.	 License suspensions must be used only to protect public safety, not to punish people for being
unable to pay fines. State law must prohibit courts from referring licenses to the DMV for suspension
because of failure to pay or appear on infraction violations, and must restore driver’s licenses for people
who only have suspensions because they could not pay or appear. This change would significantly mitigate
the racial disparities in suspensions and arrests for traffic or infraction debt. It would also eliminate both
the financial cost and societal harm of police officers and courts acting as debt collection agents by
arresting and punishing people—disproportionately people of color—for driving without paying a ticket.
2.	 Police agencies must cease making arrests solely based on warrants for failure to pay or appear,
or for driving with a suspended license for a failure to appear or pay. Furthermore, courts must not
issue arrest warrants for failure to appear or failure to pay infraction fines. Where the underlying issue is
debt collection rather than public safety, it is counterproductive to divert public safety resources to these
types of arrests.
3.	 California courts must protect access to justice and ensure that access does not depend on
income. Courts must adopt processes to meaningfully assess an individual’s ability to pay for
infraction violations. Total fine amounts should be reduced. The back-door regressive tax of add-on fees
and penalty assessments to infraction citations must be cut, in part by changing state law. Prior infraction
debts for people on public assistance should be forgiven.
4.	 Law enforcement agencies must take steps to curtail the over-policing of poor communities
and communities of color. Policies must be implemented to reduce bias and its impact on police
behavior. There must be a focus on community protection, with full data transparency and a requirement
that officers obtain written consent before conducting a search, particularly in zip codes with particularly
high license suspension disparities. Finally, there must be a reduction of non-safety related citations in lowincome communities of color, especially of “quality of life” violations that are disparately given to homeless
people and people of color.

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I.	The Problem: Racial Disparities in 			
	 License Suspensions and Traffic Arrests
A.	Overview of Previous Research on Traffic Stops and
	Traffic Courts in California
Not Just a Ferguson Problem: How Traffic Courts Drive Inequality in California showed the high costs of the
state’s traffic court system for millions of Californians. With the nation’s highest number of motorists,3 it is
not surprising that California also has a high number of traffic citations issued each year. However, what can
be a minor hassle for one driver can have devastating and lasting consequences for another. As this report
highlights, too often the difference in the impact of traffic citations comes down to race and class.
In order to understand the stark racial disparities in rates of suspensions and arrests for driving with a
suspended license, this report starts further “upstream” with data on traffic enforcement stops and searches
in jurisdictions throughout California. When considered in the context of racially disproportionate traffic stops
and searches, it becomes clearer why there are significant racial disparities in driver’s license suspensions and
arrests for driving with a suspended license.

Inequality in Traffic Stops and Searches
In 2015, Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 953, a bill that standardized and expanded police data collection
practices for police stops. At the time of publication of this report, statewide data on race and ethnicity for traffic
stops and searches is not yet available.4 However, there are local reports from Fresno County,5 Sacramento,6
San Diego,7 Oakland,8 Berkeley,9 San Jose,10 and Los Angeles.11 Analysis of data from these reports shows that in
cities across California:
•	 Black and Latino12 drivers are pulled over more often by police, and White drivers are pulled
over less, each at rates that are disproportionate to their shares of the population.13
•	 Black and Latino drivers are disproportionately pulled over without a good reason, as evidenced
by the rate of citations for non-observable offenses.14
•	 Black and Latino drivers are disproportionately searched during traffic stops.15
•	 Police are less likely to find contraband or other illegal activity in searches of Black and
Latino drivers.16

REAL LIFE STORY: Clifton
Clifton is a resident of South Los Angeles (zip code 90047), which is 66% Black. Clifton is frequently stopped by the Los Angeles Police Department for reasons that are often unclear, or
described by police as “routine traffic stops.” Clifton describes “being asked to get out of his
car, put in handcuffs and placed in the back of the police car or seated on the curb while the
officers search my vehicle. After completing the search and turning up nothing, the police will
unusually cite me for a minor traffic violation.” Clifton has acquired over 10 traffic tickets from
this pattern of being stopped and searched. He owes over $9,000 in fines and fees that he
cannot afford to pay. His driver’s license was suspended as a result.

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Although no comprehensive studies have analyzed
statewide data about police stops, highlights from
several studies from across California show:
Black and Latino drivers are disproportionately pulled over
more by police, and White drivers are pulled over less.

Black and Latino drivers are disproportionately pulled
over without a good reason.

4.3

A 2014 study by the ACLU found that in Fresno, Hispanic drivers
were times more likely to be pulled over with
“probable cause” as the sole reason.

Black and Latino drivers are disproportionately
searched during traffic stops
In the first quarter of 2014, San Diego Police Department was
3 times more likely to search a Black suspect and
2 times more likely to search a Hispanic suspect
than a White suspect.

Police are less likely to find contraband or other illegal activity
in searches of Black and Latino drivers

37%

In one Los Angeles study, police who searched African Americans were
less likely to
find weapons

24%

less likely to
find drugs

25%

less likely to
find other
contraband

than when they searched White individuals.
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Quantitative data regarding the different treatment of drivers depending on their race, ethnicity or neighborhood
is also reflected in the qualitative data – the lived experiences of drivers stopped for minor traffic violations.
Both statistics and stories illustrate that the experiences of Black and Latino drivers pulled over by police often
differ from those of White drivers.

REAL LIFE STORY: Krista
Krista, a young White woman in Alameda County, was caught driving with a suspended license,
with no proof of insurance or registration. She was cited, but not arrested. Her car was not
towed. She had the money to pay to get her license back, then brought the proof of license,
insurance, and registration to court to ask for mercy on the over $1500 worth of fines. The
judge told her good work, and forgave all the fines except a $40 processing fee. In contrast,
the person whose case was called right before hers was a young Latino man, who had similar
but less serious charges, and also had current license and registration. The judge told him this
was an important lesson, and assessed him the full fine amount, over $1000. After Krista had
her fines forgiven, she walked past a long row of people of color on the court bench who had
not received fine reductions for their traffic tickets, one of whom said to her, “That’s lucky.”

B.	New Data Shows Disproportionate License Suspension and
	Arrest Rates for Low-Income People of Color
The new data described and depicted in the following pages was obtained through forty California Public
Record Act requests submitted to the California Department of Motor Vehicles and various county sheriff
and police departments.17 This data paints a demonstrably stark picture of the intersection between license
suspensions and the criminal justice system: the dramatic racial and economic discrepancies do not disappear
after the initial police encounter, but also figure prominently into the rates by which licenses are suspended due
to unresolved tickets and subsequent arrests for driving with suspended licenses and traffic court warrants.
In California, it is a misdemeanor offense to fail to appear (“FTA”) in court or fail to pay (“FTP”) an infraction
ticket. Courts may issue a bench warrant for these misdemeanor offenses, which gives a law enforcement
officer authority to arrest a person.18 Additionally, a person’s license may be suspended upon a failure to appear
or failure to pay under California Vehicle Code section 13365.
When a person drives with a suspended license, even when the suspension occurred because of the person’s
inability to pay a ticket (even if those citations are wholly unrelated to driving), he or she is committing a
misdemeanor.19 This misdemeanor is codified under California Vehicle Code section 14601.1(a).20 Depending on
the county and the police department, law enforcement agents have the power under state law to arrest, book,
and jail people for traffic court warrants or the criminal misdemeanor offense of driving with a suspended
license – all because those individuals cannot afford the fine on an underlying ticket.
Below, Section 1 depicts how the rates of driver’s license suspensions based on failure to appear or
pay are strongly correlated with mean household income and percent Black population by zip code. It uses
U.S. Census data and information from the California DMV. The charts show that almost all zip codes with high
suspension rates are those with mean household income levels far lower than the average, and that almost
every zip code with a percentage of Black residents above 20% has a license suspension rate above the average.

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1. License Suspensions based on FTA/FTP, correlated with household income
	 and race (Dataset A)
i. License suspension rate and mean household income
In California zip codes, the mean household income is highly correlated with the rate of license suspensions due
to Failure to Appear (“FTA”) or Failure to Pay (“FTP”). The scatterplot below, in which every dot represents a
California zip code, speaks volumes about the relationship between license suspension and income level. Of the zip
codes with suspension rates higher than the average, 92% have household income levels lower than the average.

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ii. License suspension rate and percent Black population
Moreover, the percentage of Black residents living in a California zip code is positively correlated with the zip
code’s rate of license suspension due to FTA/FTP.

In the scatterplot below, 95% of the 75 zip codes with a percentage of Black residents above 20% have a license
suspension rate above the average. Almost all zip codes with a suspension rate above 6% – three times the
average – have a high proportion of Black residents.

2. County Case Studies (Datasets B and C)
The following sections present case studies of Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Joaquin Counties, respectively.
For Los Angeles and San Francisco Counties (subsections A and B), zip code maps are used to display the
same California DMV suspension rate data employed above in Section 1 against maps displaying U.S. Census
zip code information on poverty rate, percent Black population, and percent Latino population. These visual
comparisons show a clear relationship between such variables and the rate of license suspension based on a
failure to appear or pay for a ticke t.
The below charts and maps in the Los Angeles County and San Francisco County case studies display the severe
disparity between the proportion of White and Black individuals within the county population and the rate at
which they experience arrests for both FTA/FTP warrants and driving with a suspended license.21 For example,
White individuals in the City and County of San Francisco make up 41.2% of the population, but account for
only 22.7% of the arrests for FTA/FTP warrants (under-representation at a rate of 0.6x). In contrast, Black
Stopped, Fined, ARRESTED - Racial Bias in Policing and Traffic Courts in California | 8

individuals make up 5.8% of the population, but account for an astounding 48.7% of such arrests (overrepresentation at a rate of 8.4x). And from 2013 to 2015, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department arrested
and charged nearly 20,000 individuals for driving with a suspended license, the vast majority (85%) of
whom were drivers of color.
Moreover, these sections present a disturbing visual analysis of the locations of arrests for driving with a suspended
license and FTA/FTP warrants in Los Angeles and San Francisco Counties. Not only do these maps demonstrate
how heavily Latino and Black populations bear the burden of arrests for these poverty-driven offenses, they are
concentrated in areas where the poverty rate is high, household income is low, and unemployment rates are
highest in the counties.
For San Joaquin County (subsection C), the data show that 40% of the 1,717 arrests made pursuant to Vehicle Code
§ 14601.1(a) or Vehicle Code § 40508(a) between January 1, 2013 through March 8, 2016 had no incidental booking
charges that are serious offenses (felonies or serious misdemeanors involving acts that reasonably endangered
public safety). The average jail time incurred due to such arrests was 1.1 day. 58 individuals spent more than three
days in jail for such arrests, and 17 individuals spent more than ten days in jail for such arrests.
The 223 individuals (13% of total arrests) that were booked only for the charge of driving on a suspended
license spent an average of 0.85 days in jail. However, disturbing outliers exist: 3 persons spent between ten and
thirteen days in jail, and one person spent 21 days in jail - all for this singular offense.

REAL LIFE STORY: Marisol
Although statewide data on jail time for driving on a suspended license was not available at the
time of this report release, anecdotal evidence beyond San Joaquin County shows that some
Californians are spending significant time in jail for being too poor to pay a ticket and driving.
In one case in Contra Costa County, Marisol was arrested for driving on a suspended license
after she could not pay her traffic tickets, but needed to get to work. The judge sentenced her
to 90 days in jail as a result of this, her first offense.

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A.	

Los Angeles County
a. Zip code maps comparing rate of license suspension to U.S. Census data

The maps below depict Los Angeles County zip codes. The left map (license suspension rate) uses the same zip
code data shown in the previous scatterplots, while the maps on the right use U.S. Census data.
License suspension rate and poverty rate

License suspension rate and percent Black population

License suspension rate and percent Latino population

Stopped, Fined, ARRESTED - Racial Bias in Policing and Traffic Courts in California | 10

	 b. Arrest location maps by race of arrestee

FTA/FTP warrants (Vehicle Code 40508)
In 2013-2015, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department effectuated 4,391 arrests pursuant to a warrant issued under
Vehicle Code § 40508(a) or 40508(b) for a Failure to Appear in court on a traffic infraction or a Failure to Pay
a traffic or infraction fine. Not everyone who is found with a warrant for this reason is arrested. The data below
describes all arrests in which a violation of Vehicle Code § 40508 was one of the arresting charges.
The data demonstrates that Black and Latino people make up an overwhelming proportion of total arrests in
Los Angeles County for FTA/FTP. Although Black persons are only 9.2% of the population, they comprise 32.5%
of the arrests (over-representation at a rate of 3.5x). A similar yet less severe over-representation is seen in
Latinos. Although Latinos are 48.4% of the population, they comprise 55.2% of the arrests (over-representation
at a rate of 1.1x). However, while Whites are 26.8% of the population, they make up only 12.3% of arrests (underrepresentation at a rate of 0.5x).
The following chart depicts the rate of over-representation or under-representation of arrestees by race (Black,
Latino, and White). A bar equal to the high of the dotted line (1 on the Y-axis) would signify perfect representation
(a situation in which the rate of arrestees of a certain race matched the percent makeup of that race in the
county population). Bars ending in the green section (below perfect representation) signify that the race is
under-represented in the arrest data, and bars ending in the red section signify that the race is over-represented.

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This over and under-representation can be seen in the map below, which shows locations of arrests involving
warrants for FTA/FTP by race in central Los Angeles. While arrests of White individuals (shown in red) are
scattered throughout the city and show no discernible concentration in a single neighborhood, arrests of Black
and Latino individuals primarily occur in the neighborhoods with high poverty rates, low household incomes,
and low unemployment rates.

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Driving with a suspended license (Vehicle Code 14601.1)
In 2013-2015, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department effectuated 19,108 arrests involving Vehicle Code § 14601.1
for driving on a suspended license. Driver’s licenses are typically suspended under this section for a number
of minor reasons, the most common being a Failure to Appear in court on a traffic infraction or Failure to
Pay a traffic fine. This section explicitly excludes a suspended license for a public safety reason such as a
prior DUI or a previous charge of reckless driving. Not everyone who is found driving on a suspended license
is arrested; officers use discretion to warn, cite, or arrest. The data below describes all arrests in which a
violation of Vehicle Code § 14601.1 was one of the arresting charges.
The following chart depicts the race of arrestee compared to their share of the population. The data demonstrates
that Black and Latino people make up an overwhelming proportion of total arrests in San Francisco County
involving driving on a suspended license. Although Black persons are only 9.2% of the population, they comprise
33% of the arrests (over-representation at a rate of 3.6x). A similar yet less severe over-representation is seen in
Latinos. Although Latinos are 48.4% of the population, they comprise 52.2% of the arrests (over-representation
at a rate of 1.1x). However, while Whites are 26.8% of the population, they make up only 14.8% of arrests (underrepresentation at a rate of 0.6x).
The following chart depicts the rate of over-representation or under-representation of arrestees by race (Black,
Latino, and White). A bar equal to the high of the dotted line (1 on the Y-axis) would signify perfect representation
(a situation in which the rate of arrestees of a certain race matched the percent makeup of that race in the
county population). Bars ending in the green section (below perfect representation) signify that the race is
under-represented in the arrest data, and bars ending in the red section signify that the race is over-represented.

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This over and under-representation can be seen in the map below, which shows locations of arrests involving
Vehicle Code § 14601.1 for driving on a suspended license by race in central Los Angeles. Like the arrests for
FTA/FTP, arrests of White individuals (shown in red) are scattered throughout the city and show no discernible
concentration in a single neighborhood. Meanwhile, arrests of Black and Latino individuals occur in the
neighborhoods that have high poverty rates, low household incomes, and low unemployment rates. These
neighborhoods include South Central Los Angeles (Watts and Compton) and Inglewood.

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B.	

San Francisco County
a. Zip code maps comparing rate of license suspension to US Census data

The maps below include San Francisco County zip codes. The left map (license suspension rate) uses the same
zip code data shown in the previous scatterplots, while the maps on the right use US Census data.
License suspension rate and poverty rate

License suspension rate and percent Black population

License suspension rate and percent Latino population

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b. Arrest location maps by race of arrestee
FTA/FTP warrants (Vehicle Code 40508)
In 2013-2015, the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department effectuated 855 arrests pursuant to a warrant issued
under Vehicle Code § 40508(a) or 40508(b) for a Failure to Appear in court on a traffic infraction or
a Failure to Pay a traffic or infraction fine. Not everyone who is found with a warrant for this reason is
arrested. The data below describes all arrests in which a violation of Vehicle Code § 40508 was one of the
arresting charges.
The following chart depicts the location of arrest and race of arrestee. The data demonstrates that Black
and Latino individuals make up an overwhelming proportion of total arrests in San Francisco for FTA/
FTP. Although Black persons are only 5.8% of the population, they comprise 48.7% of the arrests (overrepresentation at a rate of 8.4x). A similar yet less severe over-representation is seen in Latinos. Although
Latinos are 15.3% of the population, they comprise 18.8% of the arrests (over-representation at a rate of 1.2x).
However, while Whites are 41.2% of the population, they make up only 22.7% of arrests (under-representation
at a rate of 0.6x).
The following chart depicts the rate of over-representation or under-representation of arrestees by race (Black,
Latino, and White). A bar equal to the high of the dotted line (1 on the Y-axis) would signify perfect representation
(a situation in which the rate of arrestees of a certain race matched the percent makeup of that race in the
county population). Bars ending in the green section (below perfect representation) signify that the race is
under-represented in the arrest data, and bars ending in the red section signify that the race is over-represented.

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 This over and under-representation can be seen in the map below, which shows locations of arrests
involving warrants for FTA/FTP by race in San Francisco. While arrests of White individuals (shown in red)
are not concentrated in a single neighborhood, arrests of Black and Latino individuals primarily occur in the
neighborhoods that have high poverty rates, low household incomes, and low unemployment rates. These
neighborhoods include the Tenderloin, the Mission, and Bayview-Hunters Point.

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Driving with a suspended license (Vehicle Code 14601.1)
In 2013-2015, the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department effectuated 9,312 arrests pursuant to Vehicle Code § 14601.1 for
driving on a suspended license. Driver’s licenses are typically suspended under this section for a number of minor
reasons, the most common being a Failure to Appear in court on a traffic infraction or Failure to Pay a traffic fine.
This section explicitly excludes a suspended license for a public safety reason such as a prior DUI or a previous charge
of reckless driving. Not everyone who is found driving on a suspended license is arrested; officers can choose to
warn or cite instead. The data below describes all arrests in which a violation of Vehicle Code § 14601.1 was one of the
arresting charges.
The following chart depicts the location of arrest and race of arrestee. The data demonstrates that Black and
Latino individuals make up an overwhelming proportion of total arrests in San Francisco County for driving on a
suspended license. Although Black persons are only 5.8% of the population, they comprise 45.4% of the arrests
(over-representation at a rate of 7.8x). Arrests for driving on a suspended license in San Francisco County are
the only data variable discussed in this report where Latinos are under-represented. Although Latinos are 15.3%
of the population, they comprise 9.7% of the arrests (under-representation at a rate of 0.6x). Whites are 41.2%
of the population, and 39.7% of arrests (near perfect representation).
The following chart depicts the rate of over-representation or under-representation of arrestees by race (Black,
Latino, and White). A bar equal to the high of the dotted line (1 on the Y-axis) would signify perfect representation
(a situation in which the rate of arrestees of a certain race matched the percent makeup of that race in the
county population). Bars ending in the green section (below perfect representation) signify that the race is
under-represented in the arrest data, and bars ending in the red section signify that the race is over-represented.

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This over and under-representation can be seen in the map below, which shows locations of arrests involving
Vehicle Code § 14601.1 for driving on a suspended license by race in San Francisco. Like the arrests for FTA/
FTP, arrests of White individuals (shown in red) are plentiful yet not concentrated in a single neighborhood.
Meanwhile, arrests of Black and Latino individuals occur in the neighborhoods that have high poverty rates, low
household incomes, and low unemployment rates. These neighborhoods include the Tenderloin, the Mission,
and Bayview-Hunters Point.

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C.	

San Joaquin County

Unlike the Los Angeles County and San Francisco County data described above, the data from San Joaquin
County did not provide the location of the arrest or the race of the arrestee. However, it did list the various
“booking charges” for each of the 1,717 unique arrests made pursuant to Vehicle Code § 14601.1(a) or Vehicle
Code § 40508(a) between January 1, 2013 through March 8, 2016 (most arrests had multiple booking charges).
223 arrests listed a booking charge for driving on a suspended license (Vehicle Code Section 14601.1(a)) as the
only booking charge (13% of all arrests).
When booking charges were filtered to determine whether or not each arrest included at least one charge that
was deemed a “serious offense” (including felonies and serious misdemeanors involving acts that reasonably
endangered public safety, and not including infractions and a limited number of low-level misdemeanors), the
result showed that 693 arrests (40% of total) had no booking charges that were deemed serious offenses. The
average jail time incurred due to such arrests was 1.1 day. 58 individuals spent more than three days in jail for
such arrests, and 17 individuals spent more than ten days in jail for such arrests.
The 223 individuals (13% of total arrests) that were booked only for the charge of driving on a suspended
license spent an average of 0.85 days in jail. However, disturbing outliers exist: 3 persons spent between ten and
thirteen days in jail, and one person spent 21 days in jail - all for this singular offense.

REAL LIFE STORY: Velia
Velia, a young Latina living between Bakersfield and Los Angeles, was just a teenager when
she got a couple of truancy tickets for missing school. At the time, she was helping her single
mother raise her and her three siblings, surviving on just few hundred dollars a month of public
assistance. The fines for the tickets amount to over $1,000, and Velia never had enough extra
money to pay them. As a result, the court suspended her driver’s license. Now a 25-year-old
single mother of two, herself a welfare recipient, Velia’s tickets and suspended license have
followed her, causing her endless strife. Her stepdad is a truck driver and wants to hire her, but
cannot because of her suspended license. She struggles to get her daughters to school and
medical appointments, and relies on her disabled mother to help. She was recently arrested for
driving with a suspended license and sentenced to 39 days in jail, causing her to be separated
from her children. Velia is afraid to drive for fear of being taken away from her children again,
but she does not have access to reliable public transportation in Bakersfield.

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II.	 The Data Explained
A.	Inequality in Policing: The Role of Implicit and Explicit Bias
The overrepresentation of license suspensions in Black and Latino communities is no mere coincidence. There
is growing understanding that some of the inequality in traffic and infraction enforcement can be explained by
the operation of implicit and explicit racial bias. For example, research with many groups of people, including
police officers, shows an association between Black people and crime that is automatic, or “not subject to
intentional control.”22 Especially in widespread police practices such as the “investigatory” traffic stop, which
is based not on an observable traffic violation but rather as a tool intended to catch people in the midst of
committing more serious crimes, these biases clearly play a role in who is stopped.
Many studies support the conclusion that implicit bias plays a role in the racialized outcomes of certain police
practices. Additional research even supports the idea that police officers may be more likely than the average
person to perceive guilt and deceptiveness based on race than average people.23 In another example, an
experiment found that police officers were much more likely than other people to perceive evidence of guilt in
the ambiguous actions of Black individuals than their White counterparts. 24
In addition to the troubling operation of these implicit biases in every day police encounters, there are also
examples of more explicit or intentional discrimination in enforcement, where people or communities of
color are specifically targeted. For example, a former police officer Matt Francois recently filed suit against
the San Diego Police Department, alleging that his supervisors instructed him to treat San Diego communities
differently based on race, including discouraging him from enforcing stop sign violations in a predominantly
White community: “Officer Francois was told ‘citizens of Northeastern deserved to be treated better than
citizens of Southeastern or Mid City,’ the suit alleges. The supervisor went on to say citizens there ‘actually
voted,’ favored police and were influential ‘like City Council members.’”25

B.	Inequality in Policing Leads to Unequal Debt Burden
for Families of Color
In 2013 and 2014, 4.9 million traffic and non-traffic infractions were filed in the state’s traffic courts. This is four
times the number of felony and misdemeanor filings in the same time period.27 When certain groups are implicitly or
explicitly targeted for traffic and other investigatory stops, those groups are also disproportionately issued citations.
The troubling result is that this kind of intensified policing and racial profiling of people of color means Black
and Latino people are more likely than White people to get traffic citations despite the fact that there is no
documented difference in driving behavior.
Los Angeles is a good example. A study on racial bias in traffic stops found: “While the conditional probability of
being cited favored stopped African Americans relative to stopped Whites, African Americans28 were so much more
likely to be stopped that the unconditional probability that African Americans would be cited was substantially
higher. Indeed, we find that the citations per 10,000 residents were 1,300 citations higher for African American
residents and 140 citations higher for Hispanic residents than for White residents.”29 This means that when Black
and Latino people are stopped, they are less likely to be cited or arrested than their White counterparts.
The same is true of Berkeley. According to the data set, even though Blacks are much more likely than Whites to
be stopped and searched by Berkeley cops, they are actually no more likely to be arrested, and much less likely
to be cited for any kind of infraction.30

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When the cited individuals are unable to pay their citations due to financial hardship or do not attend court
appearances for fear of being arrested by the same officers who searched their bodies and their personal
possessions, they suffer a permanent consequence: a suspended driver’s license.31 A racially skewed system of
traffic stops appears to be producing a racially skewed demography of suspended driver’s licenses.
Criminal prosecution for driving with a suspended license can lead to stiff monetary penalties. In addition to
the statutory fines, a conviction can result in two points on a person’s DMV record, which can result in higher
insurance premiums.32 These monetary sanctions, when disproportionately imposed on low-income Blacks and
Latinos, operate to increase the debt burden on and displace wealth from already struggling communities.
In addition to the increased debt burden, Black and Latino drivers are more likely to have their vehicles towed.
When someone is cited or arrested for driving with a suspended license, a tow is discretionary, as long as there is
a safe and legal place for the driver to park the vehicle. However, several studies have found that police are more
likely to order cars of Black and Latino drivers towed, which for families without money, often means losing the
vehicle because they cannot afford the very high tow and storage fees required to get it back.33 In Fresno County,
Latino drivers comprise roughly 50% of the population, but were issued 89% of the citations for driving without a
license that resulted in car impoundment. 34

REAL LIFE STORY: Kacey
Kacey (resident of Los Angeles) had his car towed and impounded three times since 2008 after
receiving three Driving with a Suspended License citations. His daughter was born premature
and requires an independent source of oxygen. For emergency purposes, he needed to drive
with a suspended license and with inexpensive vehicles he would purchase used, knowing that
if he was stopped, his vehicle would be impounded. One time, he was going to the store to pick
up medical supplies for his daughter’s pneumonia. When he arrived at the store’s parking lot, the
officers cited him for Driving with a Suspended License and impounded his vehicle. He had to
walk two miles back to his daughter while holding the car seat, diaper bag, and medical supplies.

C.	Inequality in Court: Current Fees and Court Procedures
Compound Racial Disparities
Once they receive tickets, Californians are told that they must pay the ticket or go to court. In California, traffic
courts have jurisdiction over both traffic and non-traffic infractions.35 Traffic courts can process a variety of
offenses, from traffic infractions such as having an expired license plate36 or not wearing a seatbelt37 to non-traffic
infractions such as loitering38 or not paying bus fare.39
Due to the rapidly increasing number of state-mandated court fees, the cost of an infraction citation within the
jurisdiction of California traffic court has become steeper and more complex over time.40 For those Californians
who are able to pay the fines, an infraction citation is nothing more than a mere inconvenience. However, for
many others who do not pay these fines and fees on time or miss their court dates, traffic courts respond swiftly.
As documented extensively in Not Just a Ferguson Problem: How Traffic Courts Drive Inequality in California
(2015), the ensuing consequences are severe. The court may promptly (within 10 days) issue a misdemeanor
bench warrant for “Failure to Appear” (FTA) or “Failure to Pay” (FTP).41 If it does not issue a warrant, a $300
civil assessment fee is automatically added to the fine amount.42 Upon the issuance of a FTA/FTP, some courts
also send the case to a private collections agency to recover the past due balance.43 And, most importantly, the
court will notify the Department of Motor Vehicles to indefinitely suspend the person’s driver’s license.44
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Cost of an Infraction Citation in California Traffic Court, 2015
AMOUNT
OWED

STATUTE

ASSESSMENT

BASE FINE (example)

$100

$100

State penalty assessment (Penal Code (PC) § 1464)

$10 for every $10 base fine

+$100

State criminal surcharge (PC § 1465.7)

20% surcharge on base fine

+$20

Court operations assessment (PC § 1465.8)

$40 fee per fine

+$40

Court construction (Government Code (GC) § 70372)

$5 for every $10 in base fine

+$50

County fund (GC § 76000)

$7 for every $10 in base fine

+$70

DNA Fund (GC § 76104.6 and § 76104.7)

$5 for every $10 in base fine

+$50

Emergency Medical Air Trans. Fee (GC § 76000.010)

$4 fee per fine

+$4

EMS Fund (GC § 76000.5)

$2 for every $10 in fine

+$20

Conviction assessment (GC § 703.73)

$35 fee per fine

+$35

Night court assessment (GC § 42006)

$1 per fine

+$1

ACTUAL COST OF CITATION

$490

DMV warrant/hold assessment fee (Vehicle Code (VC) § 40508.6)

$10 fee

+$10

Fee for failing to appear (VC § 40508.5)

$15 fee

+$15

Civil assessment for failure to appear/pay (PC § 1214.1)

$300 fee

COST OF CITATION IF
INITIAL DEADLINE IS MISSED

+$300

$815

Source: California Vehicle Code, California Judcial Council

When a person fails to appear or pay, the court notifies the DMV, which suspends the person’s driver’s license.45 Aside from the limited remedies offered by California’s time-restricted traffic amnesty program, there
is no process in place to lift the suspension and restore the license until after the court notifies the DMV that
the fine has been fully paid. From 2006-2013, the DMV initiated suspension actions for nearly 4.2 million driver’s licenses (17% of all CA driver’s licenses) for this very reason.46 Furthermore, the penalty assessments and
add-on fees are extraordinarily high. Most courts do not have systems in place to evaluate each defendant’s
financial circumstances. Finally, there is no right to counsel in an infraction case, so even drivers who make it
to court when they cannot afford to pay have little idea about their rights at any stage of the process, from
arraignment to trial to sentencing.

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REAL LIFE STORY: Sabas
Sabas, a street vendor in Los Angeles, was cited for vending without a permit. He was sentenced by a traffic court judge to pay $306. He was able to pay $256 before an illness required
hospitalization. Because his sole income comes from monies earned while vending, his hospitalization prevented him from earning the requisite funds to pay the remaining $50. In Los
Angeles, as in most counties, a failure to pay a fine results in an automatic civil assessment fee
of $300. This fee is imposed without a hearing and without a determination of the reasons for
why the person did not pay on time. Sabas now owes $350, which grossly outweighs the original fine despite his best efforts to pay.

D.	Inequality in Arrests for Driving with A Suspended License
As evidenced by the data, there are stark racial and socioeconomic disparities in license suspensions and related
arrests. The maps additionally show significant concentrations of both suspensions and arrests in predominantly
Black and Latino working class communities across California. Collectively analyzed, these maps paint a picture
of the pipeline effect from the infraction citation to a driver’s license suspension to arrest. One conclusion that
can be drawn from the data is that Blacks and Latinos are bearing the brunt of this police-as-debt-collector
scheme. When minority communities experience overexposure to tickets due to allocation of police resources
or implicit/explicit bias, they are more vulnerable to driver’s license suspensions for failure to appear/pay. It
makes sense then that arrests for driving with a suspended license would be concentrated by and large in those
minority communities and in neighborhoods that are historically racially segregated and economically stressed.
Even assuming that police resources are equally distributed by location and there is no measurable difference
in enforcement of laws by race, the glaring reality is that motorists of color in low-income racially segregated
neighborhoods, as a class of people, are still disproportionately represented in the arrest data. The broader
context of systemic racial bias in policing and courts is implicated in this these disproportionate arrests and
enforcement of infraction citation debt.

REAL LIFE STORY: Prentiss
Prentiss was cited for fare evasion at an Oakland BART train station. Although Prentiss had actually paid his fare, he is blind and was unable to locate his ticket stub or find the kiosk to insert
his ticket, which was over 10 yards away from the disabled elevator. Prentiss went by himself
to court, determined to challenge the ticket since he did not commit the violation. The judge
in the courtroom expressed doubt that Prentiss was truly vision impaired, found him guilty of
the violation, and sentenced him to the maximum fine. With only $890 in Social Security disability as his monthly income, Prentiss found himself unable to pay. He asked the court clerk
for a payment plan, but was told the minimum amount he could pay was $50 up front, which
he could not afford without risking his housing or going hungry.

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Matt Francois

was a San Diego Police Department (“SDPD”) officer who rotated between different
divisions in San Diego as part of his training. He was first placed in SDPD’s
Southeastern Division, which is located geographically south of the I-8 freeway in
San Diego. Demographically, the Southeastern Division is made up predominantly
of minority residents, with Whites comprising about 18% of the population, and
Blacks and Latinos making up 62% of the population. About 23% of the households in
Southeastern live in poverty. Mr. Francois was trained in a consistent and standardized
manner to run criminal background checks and “max out” on tickets on all motorists.
Mr. Francois was later moved to SDPD’s Northeastern Division, which is located north
of the I-8 freeway. Northeastern is 60% White, with Blacks and Latinos comprising
only 17% of the population. Only 10% of the population in Northeastern lives below
the poverty line. When making a traffic stop, Mr. Francois’s training officer, Mr.
Messineo, criticized him for running an “inquiry” (record search with a dispatcher)
on a White driver. Mr. Messineo further said that inquiries should only be run on
people who “looked like criminals.” When asked later what a “criminal” looked like, Mr.
Messineo responded that criminals had tattoos, “gave lip,” and had multiple failures
to appear on their record. In that same traffic stop, Mr. Messineo took the ticket
that Mr. Francois had written, crossed out the additional infraction, and commented
that the White driver’s vehicle had a decal
that suggested he was a business owner.
When Mr. Francois was later transferred
to Rancho Bernardo, a neighborhood in the
White and affluent Northeastern division,
he cited drivers who were habitually running
the stop sign at a particular intersection. Mr.
Francois’s supervisor, Lieutenant Peterson,
reprimanded him, stating that the citizens of
Northeastern deserve to be treated better that
Southeastern. Lt. Peterson told Mr. Francois
that he should not be writing so many traffic
tickets because, unlike the divisions south
of the I-8, the citizens in Northeastern
“actually voted,” were “pro-police,” and were
influential in the community (like “City
Council members”), and their complaints
could impact SDPD salaries.26

III.	 The Impact: Suspended Licenses
A.	Persistent and Ongoing Barriers to Employment
Driver’s license suspensions shut people out of employment opportunities in four major ways. The data shows
that these impacts are most severe in neighborhoods where there are high concentrations of low-income people
and people of color. (1) A driver’s license is needed for transportation to and from work. (2) Increasingly, a driver’s
license is needed to obtain full time, steady employment and to qualify for job-training programs. (3) Driver’s
licenses are becoming crucial for non-traditional jobs. (4) Private employers often screen out applicants who do
not have driver’s licenses.
Individuals with suspended driver’s licenses experience great difficulty finding steady and sustainable employment. Lack of employment can send individuals and families into long cycles of poverty that are extremely difficult to break. Increasingly, the loss of the ability to drive is a serious threat to economic security.

1.	Transportation To and From Work
Transportation to and from work is the most obvious way a driver’s license relates to employment. People who
are able to travel farther distances inherently have access to a greater number of job opportunities in different
locations.47 Where gentrification has displaced people of color from urban centers, the ability to travel to work is
crucial to the survival of these individuals.
The widespread gentrification and housing crisis in the Bay Area, especially in San Francisco and Oakland, has
forced people to move further and further away from their job locations.48 Displacement out of urban centers has
most impacted low-income communities of color; in San Francisco, displacement has disproportionately impacted
Black and Latino individuals and families. In 1970, Black residents comprised 13% of the city’s population. Today,
Black residents now comprise only 6% of San Francisco’s population, yet constitute 29% of the Eviction Defense
Collaborative clients in ejectment proceedings.49 By 2040, the city’s Latino population is predicted to shrink from
15% to 12%.50 As people move further away from major job centers, driver’s licenses become crucial for their longterm employment. In turn, license suspensions most severely impact people of color who have been displaced.

2.	Job-Training Programs and Non-Traditional Jobs Require a Driver’s License
Job-training programs are crucial to creating more employment opportunities. These programs, however, often
require a driver’s license as part of their eligibility criteria. The City of San Francisco’s CityBuild Academy offers
an 18-week pre-apprenticeship and construction skills training program where participants can earn up to 15
college credits while learning the skills necessary to enter the construction trade. Like the pre-apprenticeship
training program, most construction programs throughout California require a valid driver’s license. Similarly,
becoming EMT certified, paramedic licensed, or firefighter trained each requires a valid driver’s license.51 Many
union construction, transportation or service jobs require valid driver’s licenses just to become a member.

Real life story: Greg
After a string of non-steady jobs, Greg was excited to enter a job training program in construction, which would allow to him to have steady employment. While he was not trained to
operate moving vehicles, Greg learned that his options were limited because all construction
jobs required a driver’s license- he needed to be able to drive a golf cart when working on
larger sites.
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REAL LIFE STORY: Jabarri
Jabarri saved up some money to be able to pay enough to get his driver’s license back after his
fines were reduced through the Traffic Amnesty Program in 2015, after it had been suspended
for several years due to unpaid tickets. As soon as he got his license, he was able to take a promotion at his job and went from making $12/hour to $25/hour.
Having a suspended driver’s license essentially forecloses important job training opportunities for lowincome people of color who are working hard to remove themselves from poverty and create better lives
for themselves and their families.
Driver’s licenses are critical to many other non-traditional jobs. As nursing homes become more expensive,
and as seniors and people who are ill prefer to stay in their homes, in-home health workers have become more
in demand. These jobs offer steady work at stable, hourly pay and are a good alternative for people who have
spent time working in the care industry. Working as an in-home health aid – a steady job that does not require
a college degree – typically requires a driver’s license.52 A health aid is required to drive to the client’s home to
provide care and often must drive the client to the grocery store, appointments, or the pharmacy.

REAL LIFE STORY: Tom
Tom, a Black resident of San Francisco living on Treasure Island, had several tickets that resulted in a suspended driver’s license. He was waking up at 5am to make sure that he could get to
San Francisco in time for his various commitments, and then taking the bus back, resulting in
hours of commute time. He found stable work providing in-home care for an elderly woman,
who needed help at home, but also needed someone to drive her around and run her errands.
Because of his suspended license, Tom was not able to complete all tasks of his job, and was in
danger of losing his job.

3.	 Private Employers Screen Out Applicants Who Do Not Have
Driver’s Licenses
Finally, even if a job does not necessarily require driving, private employers under the misapprehension that
individuals with driver’s license issues would not make good employees increasingly ask for a driver’s license
number on job applications.53

REAL LIFE STORY: Marco
Marco is homeless, and is desperately looking for work to eventually be able to rent an apartment or Single Room Occupancy (“SRO”). He was shocked to learn that his license was suspended when he went to renew his license. Despite having a suspended license, he has continued to look for work. He has been discouraged since every application asks for a driver’s
license number. He has yet to find work, and is still homeless.

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Because low-income people of color disproportionately face driver’s license issues, they are further excluded
from employment opportunities by this employment practice because employers are permitted to ask about
a driver’s license on job applications, even if the job does not require driving.54 Structural discrimination,
including in employment disparities55 and over-representation in the criminal justice system, already makes it
more difficult for low-income people of color to obtain and maintain steady employment. As a result, entire
communities are blocked from employment opportunities and are forced into long term cycles of poverty.

B.	Individual Loss of Liberty and Erosion of Community Trust
in Law Enforcement
The harm of disproportionate discretionary arrests extends far beyond employment, and is experienced both
individually and community-wide. For the person who experiences it, arrest and jail time is a significant life
disruption, and can have serious financial, practical, and psychological impacts.56 For communities, disparate
policing erodes trust in the police and undermines a sense of belonging and security in certain communities.
Lastly, there are real budget costs to California, which include the price of incarcerating individuals for owing
traffic debt and the diversion of police and criminal justice resources away from public safety to this policeenforced debt collection system.

1. Individual Impact of Discretionary Arrests
Though they run the risk of being stopped, cited, and arrested for driving with a suspended license, many
individuals with suspended licenses continue to drive because their survival depends on it. They may need to
transport a sick loved one to a hospital or travel to a job in an area with inadequate public transit. In contrast to
DUI convictions, where the DMV can issue a “restricted license” to allow an individual to drive to work, school,
or medical appointments, the penalties for inability to afford one’s traffic fines lead to an indefinite suspension,
with no opportunity for even a restricted license.57 Drivers without any license are, of course, more vulnerable
to arrest and prosecution for driving with a suspended license.

REAL LIFE STORY: Norris
Norris had a suspended license because he was unable to pay a traffic ticket. Norris’s wife was
diagnosed with cancer in 2009, requiring him to drive her to chemotherapy treatment three to
four times per week. In a span of a couple months, Norris received four tickets in Palmdale for
driving with a suspended license while taking his wife to treatment. Because of his inability to pay
these citations, Norris was eventually arrested, pursuant to a bench warrant, and sentenced to
180 days in jail, one year of probation, and $2,600 in administrative fines and fees. Despite doing
the time, Norris has been unable to pay off the additional fines. His ability to pay is further compromised because Norris now has a criminal record. Norris is currently unemployed, and having
a hard time finding work with a suspended driver’s license and a criminal record.
Upon arrest, people are frequently handcuffed for hours at the scene of arrest and through the booking process.
Once they are booked, they are detained, sometimes for days, awaiting a hearing by a judge. A person may wait
as long as 48 hours (the constitutional limit) after arrest to be seen by a judge. But sometimes, administrative
or bureaucratic errors can undermine the timeliness by which an arrestee avails himself of this fundamental
constitutional right.

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Arrests are not planned, and can cause people to miss work, lose jobs, go without needed medicine or medical
care, and be unable to pick up their kids: the results of being pulled out of your daily life responsibilities
unexpectedly can be grave.
Even after someone is released, the process continues to be punishing. A person who is arrested for driving
with a suspended license is required to navigate a confusing and complex court process, pay attorney’s fees58
and court fees, and decide whether to plead guilty to a misdemeanor offense of driving with a suspended
license, which comes with a litany of additional penalties.
The first conviction for driving with a suspended license can mean six months of county jail time, several years
of probation, and a maximum penalty of $1000 (plus penalty assessments).59 If there is a second conviction,
the penalties are even more severe. In addition, driving with a suspended license will result in higher insurance
premiums, and add points to a person’s driving record.

REAL LIFE STORY: Ms. Strong
Ms. Strong was arrested approximately five months following a traffic violation in Torrance. Because she failed to pay for the Torrance violation and had two other unpaid tickets, the judge
produced an arrest warrant for her with a $50,000 bond. She was booked on a Saturday, and
the following Tuesday, while she was in court, she requested to do additional time in lieu of the
fines, thinking that staying in jail could clear the outstanding balance on the tickets. She spent
fifteen days in jail for three citations. After serving the extra time, she discovered that she still
had fines associated with each of these three charges in traffic court. 60
Arrest and incarceration have profound material, psychological, and emotional impacts on individuals and
their families.61 Studies show that incarceration is correlated with overall diminished income,62 which in turn is
associated with lower levels of mental well-being,
physical health, social attachments, and a lower
life expectancy.63 Compounded by the stigma and
In 2015, The United States Department
disenfranchisement, these psychological impacts
of Justice (DOJ) held a national
can persist long after the arrest and detention. Even
convening related to the assessment
short-term jail sentences can damage a person’s
and collection of court-ordered fines
emotional health permanently. Psychological
and fees in Washington D.C. On March
studies demonstrate that Black people subjected
14, 2015, they sent a correspondence
to intrusive police stops experience heightened
to court administrators calling on
levels of psychological stress.64
Finally, suspending driver’s licenses for failure to
pay, and then arresting people for driving is creating
a gateway to jail, probation, additional fines, and a
criminal record for some of the most vulnerable
Californians. It is also swelling our jail system, at a
time that California needs to drastically reduce its
jail population. In the long term, because pleading
guilty to a misdemeanor creates a criminal record, it
can permanently foreclose an individual’s eligibility
for certain jobs and benefits. Entire families are
affected materially and emotionally.

courts to adjust their policies and
practices to ensure that no person
is jailed as a result of inability to pay
court fines. The DOJ also announced
the availability of $2.5 million in
competitive grants to state and
local governments who want to take
action to change how their fines and
fees are assessed and collected.65

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2.	Community Impacts of Disproportionate Arrests for Driving
with a Suspended License
Research finds that the personal experiences of arrest—particularly experiences of police disrespect and frequent
stops—directly erode trust in the police. Nearly one in four Black men under age 30 reports feeling uncomfortable
calling the police if they need help. While White people’s comfort in calling the police increases dramatically with
age, for Black people it does not.66
Furthermore, Black people report being talked down to and disrespected by police officers during traffic
encounters.67 This type of denigration alienates people and undermines the sense of belonging and security for
many community members.68

REAL LIFE STORY: Cain
Cain, a 28-year-old Black man, lives in South Central Los Angeles. In 2015, he made a police report
after witnessing a neighbor’s domestic violence incident. When the police came, they arrested
Cain on a bench warrant from a 2009 ticket for failing to pay a $1.50 Metro fare. Cain was handcuffed by the arresting officers and humiliated in front of his family and neighborhood. After
spending two days and one night in jail, Cain returned home to find that his employer had fired
him due to his absence at work. Despite doing jail time, he still had to go to court for the ticket for
Metro fare evasion and contest the $889 fine.
Today, Cain has a heightened sense of fear when he sees a police car. He says, “It was extremely
embarrassing to be detained and handcuffed while the officers probed me for information for
information unrelated to my warrant. They profiled me as a gang member, which I have no record
of. After being detained, isolated, handcuffed for several hours, I was finally placed under arrest.
I had to ask the officers would I be read my Miranda rights, in which he responded ‘I’m sure you
know them.’ I spent the night in jail only to be released with a ticket for the exact same warrant I
was arrested for, and a notice to appear in court. I left the jail feeling deflated, sick, hurt, unhuman.”
Frequent, disproportionate stops and subsequent investigatory searches can make people of color feel that
police officers pull them over not because of criminal activity but because the officers have implicit stereotypes
linking race and criminality. The impression that officers are using the stops to intimidate them or search their
private property undermines faith in both officers and the government, and thereby limits the public safety
role police are supposed to serve. The belief that arrests are racially disproportionate is borne out by available
data showing more frequent stops and searches of Black and Latino drivers that yield no findings of a crime.69
When this overexposure to traffic stops also leads to more infraction citations and, subsequently, more court
debt, it can be perceived that police officers are not interested in genuinely protecting and serving the public,
but rather are more concerned with issuing minor citations and generating fines, regardless of the permanent
consequences those citations and fines can have on an individual and his family.70

3.	 Cost to the Public
The price of incarcerating tens of thousands of individuals for what is essentially a crime of poverty is enormous.
Not only is the cost of incarceration per person high, it may be exacerbating jail overcrowding and putting
enormous strains on staff and other personnel at sheriff’s stations, jails, and lock-up facilities.
At a time when California is investing significant resources in reducing its prison and jail populations, the policy
of incarcerating people for driving with poverty-based suspended licenses is out of sync.71
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IV.	RECOMMENDATIONS
In the year since the release of our first report, several of the suggestions put forth in our solutions sections
have been initiated. The Judicial Council adopted a rule partially addressing the requirement that one had to
pay “bail” as a prerequisite to scheduling a hearing in traffic court.72 The Statewide Traffic Amnesty Program
took effect in October 2015; despite its shortcomings, its income-responsive design has resulted in greater
participation in just the first three months of the program than the total who participated in the last amnesty
program in 2012.
However, the policies and practices described in the preceding sections of this report remain extremely
problematic despite progress made in the past nine months. This section details an array of possible solutions
for consideration by Californians, legislators, policy makers, courts, law enforcement and other government
agencies. The complexity and problems of the current systems will require inter-agency collaboration to
create short- and long-term solutions to the cycle of criminalization and poverty caused by citations, fines
and fees, license suspensions, and related arrests.

Recommendation #1
Abolish the Use of Driver’s License Suspension as a
Court-Ordered Debt Collection Tool
License suspensions should be used only to protect public safety, not to punish people
for their inability to pay fines.73 California’s current use of license suspensions for failure to pay
or appear is both bad public policy and of questionable constitutionality. Driver’s licenses are so
necessary for participation in the job market that the U.S. Supreme Court held nearly 40 years ago
that licenses are “essential in the pursuit of livelihood” and their suspension requires due procedural
protections.74 In a recent letter sent to state court leaders across the country, the United States
Department of Justice affirmed this, recommending that courts place a moratorium on the use of
license suspension to collect court debt absent clear due process.75 The American Association of
Motor Vehicles has said that suspending licenses for failure to pay or appear is not a good use of
resources, and undermines public safety.76
SB 881, authored by Senator Hertzberg and currently before the California legislature, is cosponsored by members of the Back on the Road CA Coalition, and would repeal the authority of the
DMV to suspend licenses when notified by courts of a failure to appear (FTA) or failure to pay (FTP).
The bill would restore driver’s licenses to people with existing license suspensions due to an FTA or
FTP. The bill would preserve the other debt collection tools available to the state, including wage
garnishment or tax return intercept by the State Franchise Tax Board. State legislators should take
this opportunity to support SB 881’s passage.

Recommendation #2
Stop the Criminalization of People Who Cannot Afford to
Pay Fines and Fees
County-level law enforcement agencies and local courts throughout California have an urgent
responsibility to curtail the unfair criminalization of the most impacted communities. They should:

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1.	 Stop the issuance of arrest warrants for failures to appear and pay in traffic court.
2.	 Reclassify a violation of VC 14601.1(a) [driving with suspended license for a failure to
appear or pay] as an infraction rather than a misdemeanor.
3.	 Abolish the use of bail in any case where a person is arrested due to an underlying
charge related to a failure to pay court fines and fees.

Recommendation #3
Reduce Fines, Fees and Assessments for Low-Income People
and Ensure Equal Access to Justice
Under the current system in California, there is no formal, standardized court process to consider
a person’s ability to pay fines. No notice is given to inform someone of alternative ways of satisfying
court fines and fees than simply paying upfront the total amount due. Notices say nothing about the
possibility of setting up an installment payment plan or performing community service. Hundreds of
thousands of people across the state are still barred from getting into court because they cannot
afford to pay the full citation up front after missing a payment.
Appendix 2 details a number of specific policies and procedures that could be improved in order to
ensure that due procedure requirements are met, and that access to court services is not tied to ability
to pay fines and fees. Broadly summarized, the proposals include:
1.	 Ensure that access to the courts and due process do not depend on income.
2.	 Require all courts and counties to use a state-mandated payment plan formula that
is tied to a person’s current income, and allow requests for modification if a person’s
financial circumstances change.
ɦɦ Reduce the burden of exorbitant fines, fees, and assessments on low- and
middle-income people.
ɦɦ Offer additional opportunities for low-income individuals to utilize community
service as an alternative to monetary payment of court-ordered debt.
ɦɦ Monitor private debt collection companies contracted to collect courtordered debt to ensure compliance with the law.
3.	 Extend and improve the current Traffic Amnesty Program to make it more accessible
to low-income people.77
4.	 Automate procedures to reinstate suspended licenses after a certain period of time or
after the court has discharged the underlying debt.
5.	 Provide more funding for civil legal aid and workable self-help services to help
people navigate traffic court, including better online information about accessing
the current amnesty program. Create and fund a right to counsel to those facing
license suspension. Under current law, someone charged with a traffic offense is not
guaranteed an attorney despite the fact that failure to appear or to pay fines and
fees can result in a future arrest and incarceration. Furthermore, the conviction may
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stay on one’s driving record for years, with significant negative consequences. Poor
defendants should be provided with an attorney to zealously defend their statutory
and constitutional rights in traffic court.
Adopting some combination of the aforementioned solutions is vital to protect fair access to justice
in California. However, as legal advocates, the members of Back on the Road California are cognizant
of the significant funding challenges facing courts in California. We strongly support adequate court
funding to ensure fair access to justice for all members of our community, regardless of income.
Funding court operations from the collection of court fees is an unstable source of revenue for the
courts. Such a practice also presents a conflict of interest for the courts, as judicial officers’ decisions
directly affect the amount of funds available to pay court expenses, including judges’ own salaries. We
must finance court operations differently, decoupling court debt collection from court funding. We
suggest funding from the State General Fund and also from an increase in the court filing fee schedule
for inter-corporate and complex litigation to ensure that the full costs of such litigation are not borne
by the taxpayers. A new source of revenue could come from the collection of a small percentage of any
court-monitored settlement or verdict above $100,000.

Recommendation #4
End the Cver-Policing of Communities of Color and
Low-Income Communities
Explicit bias in law enforcement,78 compounded by mounting evidence of implicit bias in policing,
suggests that racism and discrimination are major issues confronting law enforcement. Black Lives
Matter activists and other groups across the country have put forth aggressive proposals to increase
accountability for police-involved killings. Measures to curtail discriminatory practices should be
developed in collaboration with the communities most impacted by such policing practices. Many high
profile police killings in the past few years began with a traffic stop or an investigatory “stop-and-frisk”
pedestrian stop. As such, Recommendation #4 is intended to contribute to the larger national dialogue
about police accountability and law enforcement reform.
Based on our findings, we recommend the following:
1.	 End the failed practice of investigatory police stops.
2.	 Increase transparency around police stops.79
3.	 Implement measures to reduce bias and its impact on police behavior.80
4.	 Require written consent before any search of a person or vehicle during a police stop.81
5.	 Reduce non-safety related citations in low-income communities of color, especially
of “quality of life” violations that are disparately given to homeless people and
people of color.82

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CONCLUSION
The police and court practices described in this report have had and continue to have a grave impact on
California’s communities. Driven by implicit and explicit biases within courts and law enforcement, there is
clear disparate impact of these harms on low-income people and especially on whole communities of color.
As demonstrated by data from various public sources, driver’s license suspensions and related arrests saddle
people with long-lasting criminal records simply because they cannot afford to pay an infraction ticket.
If the state of California is committed to eradicating institutional racism and promoting justice and fairness
in our communities, it must halt this ongoing harm. Addressing these problems successfully will require
multiple strategies. Our Back of the Road California Coalition stands ready to participate in finding creative
solutions to a problem affecting millions of Californians, especially those who are poor and particularly poor
people of color.

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APPENDIX 1: Methodology
Dataset A – DMV records regarding license suspension rates due to FTA/FTP
The core of Dataset A is a dataset provided by the California Department of Motor Vehicles detailing the number
of active driver’s license suspensions due to Failure to Appear or Failure to Pay on July 14, 2014 (snapshot in
time), by zip code. Total number of zip codes was 2,427.
This core dataset was supplemented with ZIP Code Tabulation Areas-specific U.S. Census data from the 2014
American Community Survey (5-year estimates). Because zip codes represent United States Postal Service
service areas and are subject to change, the U.S. Census builds ZIP Code Tabulation Areas (ZCTAs) using census
blocks to approximate zip code. The U.S. Census describes ZCTAs as “generalized areal representations” of
zip codes, and a description of the conversion process can be read online.83 The U.S. Census datasets used
are as follow:
From dataset DP05 DEMOGRAPHIC AND HOUSING ESTIMATES:
•	 HC03_VC79: Percent; RACE - Race alone or in combination with one or more other races Total population - Black or African American
•	 HC03_VC81: Percent; RACE - Race alone or in combination with one or more other races Total population - Asian
•	 HC03_VC88: Percent; HISPANIC OR LATINO AND RACE Total population - Hispanic or Latino (of any race)
•	 HC03_VC94: Percent; HISPANIC OR LATINO AND RACE Total population - Not Hispanic or Latino - White alone
From dataset DP03 SELECTED ECONOMIC CHARACTERISTICS:
•	 HC01_VC03: Estimate; EMPLOYMENT STATUS - Population 16 years and over
•	 HC01_VC86: Estimate; INCOME AND BENEFITS (IN 2014 INFLATION-ADJUSTED DOLLARS) Total households - Mean household income (dollars)
•	 HC03_VC171: Percent; PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES AND PEOPLE WHOSE INCOME IN THE
PAST 12 MONTHS IS BELOW THE POVERTY LEVEL - All people
The Microsoft Excel “VLOOKUP” function was used to match the above Census ZCTA information with the
zip codes from the DMV core dataset. Because the Census’s zip code-to-ZCTA conversion process combines
some very small zip codes into larger ZCTAs, 690 zip codes did not match with Census data and were therefore
discarded. Then, the remaining 371 zip codes with populations (16 years and older) under 1,000 residents were
discarded. This left 1,366 zip codes with matched ZCTA information.
Finally, an Excel formula was used to create a variable describing the FTA/FTP suspension rate as a percent of
the ZCTA population of residents 16 years and older (used as a proxy for the number of residents eligible for a
driver’s license). The resulting variable showed suspension rates in zip codes ranging from near zero to a high of
7.9%. (One extreme outlier, zip code 95113, was dropped from the dataset because of a 17.5% suspension rate).

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Dataset B – Los Angeles County and San Francisco County arrest
	
location and race data
Dataset B compiles non-identifying data acquired from Los Angeles and San Francisco Counties through
Public Records Act Requests. The data detail the locations of arrests and race of the arrestee made pursuant
to California Vehicle Code section 40508 (failure to appear or failure to pay) and Vehicle Code section
14601.1(a) (driving on a suspended license). Below paragraphs describe the data received as a result of
these requests.

Los Angeles County

Public Records Act requests were sent to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department between October 2015
and February 2016. The data received represents all arrests made between September 30, 2013 and September
30, 2015. Section 14601.1(a) arrests totaled 19,108. Section 40508 arrests totaled 4,391.

San Francisco County

A Public Records Act request was sent to San Francisco County Sheriff’s Department on December 17, 2015. The
data received represents all arrests made between the two-year period of January 1, 2014 through December 31,
2015. Section 14601.1(a) arrests totaled 9,312. Section 40508 arrests totaled 855.

Arrest Location Maps Methodology

In order to create maps showing arrest locations, the data received from both counties required extensive
“cleaning” due to poor data integrity. For example, many arrest locations could not be “geocoded” for latitude
and longitude coordinates without fixing typographical errors, and some data points did not contain useful
location information. If typographical errors could not be fixed (“cleaned”), or if the location data did not
provide meaningful or definitive location information, the rows were not included in the dataset used to make
the arrest location maps. Moreover, some arrest locations were listed at county jails or booking center and
therefore were not included in the maps. After such cleaning, the San Francisco County dataset contained 8,415
Section 14601.1(a) arrests and 779 Section 40508 arrests; the Los Angeles County dataset contained 17,444
Section 14601.1(a) arrests and 4,113 Section 40508 arrests. The service geocod.io was used to find latitude and
longitude coordinates for arrest locations.

Dataset B Limitations Discussion

There are certain limitations to the data regarding arrest locations. The data from the Sheriff’s Departments
only contains information about stops that ultimately ended in arrests and bookings for Vehicle Code §§
14601.1(a) and 40508(a) violations. The data does not account for any stops that ended in a verbal or written
warning, or a citation. This limitation in data necessitates that there are likely many more stops and citations
for Driving with a Suspended License and Failure to Appear/Pay than are represented in the data disclosed
by the Department. Certainly, the data does not capture the times when motorists are stopped, searched,
and subsequently released. It also does not account for the times when an invasive investigatory search was
effectuated and the motorist was not booked or arrested. As a result, this analysis undercounts the number of
times a person who has a suspended driver’s license has been stopped, temporarily detained and penalized for
failure to pay a traffic fine.
The second limitation is that in each County dataset, there may be other charges incident to each arrest
for Vehicle Code § 14601.1 and 40508(a). This implies that any arrestee might have had additional charges
beyond driving with a suspended license or a bench warrant for FTA/FTP. At the time of the publication of

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this report, neither the San Francisco nor Los Angeles Counties responded to a follow-up request for additional booking charges for every arrest. Nonetheless, we know from anecdotal evidence and from Dataset
C that arrests occur for alleged violations of Vehicle Code §§ 14601.1 and 40508(a) alone. We also know
from such evidence that arrests are effectuated when there are alleged violations of misdemeanor violations of Vehicle Code §§ 14601.1 and 40508(a) and one or more minor infractions for which incarceration is
not legally permitted.
The third limitation is that a driver’s license may be suspended under Vehicle Code § 14601.1 for a number of reasons, not merely for an infraction citation. It is our information and belief, upon conversations
with public defenders in Los Angeles county and around the state, that the most common observed
reason for a license suspension when a defendant faces a charge of Vehicle Code § 14601.1(a) is a Failure
to Appear in court on a traffic ticket or Failure to Pay an infraction ticket.

Dataset C – San Joaquin County arrest data
A Public Records Act request was sent to San Joaquin County Counsel on March 2, 2016. The dataset received
in response, presented in comma separated values format, represents all arrests made pursuant to Vehicle
Code § 14601.1(a) or Vehicle Code § 40508(a) between January 1, 2013 through March 8, 2016, and totaled 1,717
unique arrests. Unlike the data in Dataset B, the San Joaquin dataset did not provide the location of the arrest
or the race of the arrestee. However, it listed the various “booking charges” for each arrest (most arrests had
multiple booking charges), and we identified roughly 850 unique booking charges. 223 arrests listed a booking
charge for driving on a suspended license (Vehicle Code Section 14601.1(a)) as the only booking charge (13%
of all arrests). We then categorized the hundreds of booking charges into two categories: 1) “serious offenses,”
including felonies and serious misdemeanors involving acts that reasonably endangered public safety, and 2)
“non-serious” offenses, including infractions and a limited number of low-level misdemeanors.
An Excel formula was then used to filter the list of booking charges for each arrest by whether or not it
included at least one “serious offense” charge. The result showed that 693 arrests (40% of total) had no
booking charges that were deemed serious offenses. The average jail time incurred due to such arrests was
1.1 day. 58 individuals spent more than three days in jail for such arrests, and 17 individuals spent more than
ten days in jail for such arrests.
The 223 individuals (13% of total arrests) that were booked only for the charge of driving on a suspended
license spent an average of 0.85 days in jail. However, disturbing outliers exist: 3 persons spent between ten and
thirteen days in jail, and one person spent 21 days in jail - all for this singular offense.

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APPENDIX 2: Full list of court-based solutions
Note: Many of the solutions below were first presented in April 2015 in Not Just a Ferguson
Problem: How Traffic Courts Drive Inequality in California. The list below has been adjusted to
incorporate changes to the law since that first report was released, and also includes new ideas
brought to light by the data in this report. Some of these solutions would not be necessary if
license suspension is definitively de-linked from FTA’s, FTP’s, all infractions and all non-safety
misdemeanor convictions.

A.	 Ensure that access to the courts and due process do not depend
on income.
ɦɦ Prohibit courts from requiring advance payment of a civil assessment when an
individual is seeking to demonstrate a “good cause” basis for vacating the civil
assessment under the statute.
ɦɦ Extend the window during which an individual can cure a failure to pay or failure to
appear from 10 days to 60 days, and longer if the good cause reason for the delay
extends beyond the 60 days.
ɦɦ Allow individuals to seek a reduction of the civil assessment amount, based on inability
to pay.

B.	 Standardize payment plans
ɦɦ Require that counties and courts offer individuals the option of setting up a payment
plan to satisfy court-ordered debt. The plan must conform to State guidelines. Dictate
that payment plans may be established at any time, but would not go into effect until
a person’s income exceeds a threshold amount equal to the earnings of 40 hours of
work per week at the state minimum wage.
ɦɦ Once a person’s income meets the minimum threshold, payments under the plan
could not exceed 10% of a person’s income if the income is less than the federal
poverty level, 20% if their income is less than 200% of the federal poverty level, and
25% on higher incomes.
ɦɦ Establish a process for individuals at any time to request adjustments of their payment
plans based on a change of financial circumstances.
ɦɦ Require that court-approved payment plans be accepted by any private debt
collection agency
ɦɦ Amend CCP 706.051 (a) to expand its protections to include court debt collected by a
private collections agency.
ɦɦ Require that all citation notices and court courtesy notices indicate that there is an
income-based payment plan option and a community service option
ɦɦ For defendants with debts in multiple counties, require that the first county to receive
a defendant’s Amnesty application notify any other counties to which debt is owed by

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the defendant and thereafter create a unified multi-county payment plan providing
that payments are to be made to that county which will then distribute the funds to
the other respective counties under a State distribution formula to be established.

C.	 	
	

Reduce the financial burden of citation fines and court fees for
low-income people based on their “ability to pay.”
ɦɦ Reduce by 50% all existing add-on penalty assessments, and prohibit the imposition of
any new assessments.
ɦɦ Allow persons who are low-income to request a waiver of a portion of fines,
fees, and civil assessments owed, based on proof of indigence, calculated by a
standardized income schedule. This opportunity for waiver should apply to any
debt that has been adjudicated, regardless of which entity is currently charged
with collecting the debt.
ɦɦ Allow people to work off traffic fines and fees, including civil assessment penalties,
through performing community service hours that are credited at a rate of at least
150% of the state minimum wage or 100% of an applicable local living wage.
ɦɦ Permit individuals to request community service as an alternative to payment even
if they are paying under an installment payment plan, if their financial circumstances
change and they are unable to pay the agreed-upon monthly amount.
ɦɦ Require that all citation notices and court courtesy notices indicate that there is an
option to request community service.

D. 	 Extend and improve the current Traffic Amnesty Program to 		
	
make it more accessible to low-income people84
ɦɦ The Amnesty cut-off date should be extended to January 1, 2016
ɦɦ Allow those with fines due after January 1, 2013 to have a reduction in the amount
owed according to the current guidelines.
ɦɦ Standardize an income-based repayment schedule to be used across the state.
ɦɦ Restore the driver’s license after the first payment is made.
ɦɦ Include an opportunity to complete community service of the reduced amount, in lieu
of payment, if the individual is below 250% of the federal poverty level.
ɦɦ Waive the $50 participation fee for those who qualify for an 80% reduction in fees.
ɦɦ All administrative fees should be waived for low-income people.
ɦɦ Courts should permit the performance of community service in lieu of payment under
the Amnesty Program.
ɦɦ The restrictions on victim restitution and open warrants should be eliminated.

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ɦɦ Collections agencies should not be permitted to ask any Amnesty Program participant
about any other court-ordered debt.

E.	 Automate procedures to reinstate suspended licenses after a 		
		certain period of time or after the court has discharged the 		
		underlying debt.
Under current law, court-ordered debt may be discharged, subject to certain conditions. Upon discharge, the
debt is no longer actively being collected.85 Once debt is discharged, counties and courts should be required
to direct the DMV to release all license suspensions related to the collection of that debt. Any county or court
establishing a “discharge of debt” plan must incorporate into that plan a policy of releasing any license suspension
that is based on discharged debt.
ɦɦ Under current law, Vehicle Code § 12808(c), the DMV may remove a failure to appear or
pay notice and issue a license after five years. This law should be amended to require the
DMV to take this action and reduce the term to three years.

F.	 Redirect the revenue from civil assessment penalties to the 		
	
state general fund to eliminate conflict of interest.
ɦɦ As the direct recipient of the revenue collected from civil assessment penalties, courts
are incentivized to impose the full $300 fee each time, despite the statutory requirement
under Vehicle Code § 42003 to consider a defendant’s ability to pay. These funds should
not become a revenue stream for the courts but should go directly into the State
General Fund to eliminate this conflict of interest These new General Fund dollars could
help finance the State programs currently funded by add-on fees to base fines. The
courts could also seek addition funding from the General Fund to cover their funding
short-fall caused by no longer receiving fees and assessments.

G.	 Reduce the burden of license suspensions for people being 		
	
released from jail or prison who are struggling towards
	
successful community reentry.
ɦɦ

Establish an explicit statutory prohibition on the use of license suspensions for collection
of court-ordered fines and fees related to a criminal conviction as a counter-productive
barrier to reentry.

ɦɦ Expand Vehicle Code § 41500, which allows the dismissal of outstanding traffic citations
for people serving a sentence in state prison, , to include people serving a county jail
sentence.

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Endnotes
1	

This coalition includes: A New Way of Life Re-Entry
Project, The East Bay Community Law Center,
Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights of the San
Francisco Bay Area, Legal Services for Prisoners
with Children, and the Western Center on Law and
Poverty.

2	 See Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the
Bay Area et al., Not Just a Ferguson Problem: How
Traffic Courts Drive Inequality in California (2015),
available at http://www.lccr.com/wp-content/uploads/
Not-Just-a-Ferguson-Problem-How-Traffic-CourtsDrive-Inequality-in-California-4.20.15.pdf. Not Just
a Ferguson Problem came on the heels of similar
findings across the country that show racial disparities
in traffic stops, starting with the U.S. Department of
Justice’s investigation of the Police Department in
Ferguson, Missouri. See Civil Rights Div., U.S. Dep’t of
Justice, Investigation of the Ferguson Police Dep’t
(2015), available at http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/
spl/documents/ferguson_findings_3-4-15.pdf.
3	 See Highway Statistics Series, Licensed Total Drivers
by Age, Sheet 5 of 6, U.S. Dep’t of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration (Sept. 2011).
4	 See Cal. Gov’t Code § 12525.5; Cal. Penal Code §§
13012, 13519.4.
5	 See Am. Civil Liberties Union of N. Cal., CHP Records
Reveal a Pattern of Stopping Latinos to Impound
Vehicles: A Case Study from Fresno County (2014),
available at https://www.aclunc.org/sites/default/files/
caruthers_chp_case_study.pdf.
6	 See Howard P. Greenwald, U. of S. Cal., Race and
Vehicle Stops by the Sacramento County Sheriff’s
Department (2011), available at http://www.oig.
saccounty.net/Documents/sac_030847.pdf. Note
that the author of this study has been criticized
for justifying racial profiling within the Sacramento
police department in his 2001 report analysis.
Michelle Alexander, Am. Civil Liberties Union
Foundation of N. Cal., The California DWB Report:
A Report from the Highways, Trenches and Halls of
Power in California 49 (2002).

7	 See Shelly Zimmerman, City of San Diego Police
Department, Report to the City Council: No: 15-016
(2015), available at http://www.sandiegouniontribune.
com/documents/2015/feb/25/san-diego-policetraffic-stops-report. See also Megan Burks, What
SDPD’s Racial Data Can Tell Us—and What it Can’t,
Voice of S.D., May 19, 2014, available at http://www.
voiceofsandiego.org/racial-profiling-2/what-sdpdsracial-data-can-tell-us-and-what-it-cant/.
8	 See Joaquin Palomino, Black Oakland Residents
Stopped, Searched with Vague Legal Tactic, S.F
Chron., Nov. 28, 2015, available at http://www.
sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/Black-Oaklandresidents-stopped-searched-with-6662485.php.
9	 Darwin BondGraham, Data Shows Disproportionate
Stops and Searches of Blacks and Latinos by Berkeley
Cops, E. Bay Express, September 28, 2015, available at http://www.eastbayexpress.com/SevenDays/
archives/2015/09/28/data-shows-disproportionatestops-and-searches-of-blacks-and-latinos-by-berkeley-cops.
10	 Tracey Kaplan et al., SJPD Data Show San Jose Cops
Detained Greater Percentage of Blacks, Latinos,
Santa Cruz Sentinel, May 10, 2015, available at http://
www.santacruzsentinel.com/article/NE/20150510/
NEWS/150519972.
11	 Ian Ayres & Jonathan Borowsky, A Study of Racially
Disparate Outcomes in the Los Angeles Police
Department (2008), available at http://islandia.law.
yale.edu/ayres/Ayres%20LAPD%20Report.pdf.
12	 This report uses the term “Latino” in all instances
even when the data source (e.g., U.S. Census or law
enforcement data) says “Hispanic.”
13	 For example, in Berkeley during the first eight
months of 2015, 30.5% of all traffic stops were of
Black drivers, but Black people make up only 8.4%
of Berkeley’s total population. White people are
56% of Berkeley’s total population, but were only
36.7% of those stopped by the police. BondGraham,
supra note 9. See also Charles R. Epp, Pulled Over:

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How Police Stops Define Race and Citizenship
(University Of Chicago Press 2014). In San Jose,
a city where Black and Latino people are slightly
more than a third of the population, those groups
made up nearly two-thirds of all traffic stops. Black
drivers were 8% of the stops, compared with 3% of
the population, and Latino drivers were 57% of the
stops, but only 33% of the population. Kaplan et al.,
supra note 10. In Oakland, from September 2014 to
September 2015, more than 34,000 people were
stopped by Oakland police. About 70% were Black,
even though just 26.5% of all Oakland residents are
Black. Palomino, supra note 8.
14	 In Fresno, Latino drivers are pulled over more
often than White drivers for “investigatory” stops,
based on non-observable offenses. In a 2014 study,
Latino drivers were 4.3 times more likely than
non-Latino drivers to receive a citation for driving
without a license as the sole offense without any
other infraction, with “probable cause” noted as
justification for the initial stop, instead of a concrete
traffic violation. Am. Civil Liberties Union of N. Cal.,
supra note 5. Similarly, in Berkeley, 66.2% of Black
people pulled over were released without an arrest
or citation, with Hispanics/Latinos close behind
at 56.4%. Only 38.1% of White people stopped by
Berkeley police were eventually released without
being either arrested or cited, indicating that while
police were stopping Black and Latino drivers more
frequently, they were not finding justification for
the stops at nearly the same rate. Emilie Raguso,
Berkeley Coalition Says Policy Stops Show Racial
Bias, Berkeleyside, Sept. 29, 2015, available at
http://www.berkeleyside.com/2015/09/29/berkeleycoalition-says-police-stops-show-racial-bias/.
15	 During a 12-month period in Oakland, more than
half of all people stopped for traffic violations
were Black, and the driver was searched in 1 of 5
of those stops. White motorists were four times
less likely to be pulled over, and those who were
stopped were nearly six times less likely to be
searched. Palomino, supra note 8. In San Diego,
Black drivers were searched three times more than
White drivers following traffic stops, and Latino
drivers were searched twice as many times as
White drivers. Burks, supra note 7.

16	 In Los Angeles, searched African Americans were
37% less likely than searched Whites to be found
with weapons, 24% less likely to be found with
drugs, and 25% less likely to be found with other
contraband. Ayres, supra note 11, at 7. Despite the
highly disproportionate search rates for Black and
Latino drivers in San Diego, searches were less likely
to result in an arrest for Black and Latino residents,
and in more than 90% of all vehicle searches,
officers found no drugs or contraband of any kind.
Burks, supra note 7.
17	 Please reference Appendix 1 for an explanation of
methodology for obtaining and interpreting the data.
18	 If a person misses a court appearance for a traffic
violation or fails to pay a traffic or infraction ticket,
he or she is issued a Failure to Appear (FTA) or a
Failure to Pay (FTP). The power to issue that arrest
warrant is given by California Vehicle Code section
40508 and California Penal Code section 853.7. While
in Los Angeles County, traffic courts treat a Failure
to Appear or Failure to Pay as infractions added
to an individual’s initial traffic infraction(s), the
California Legislature has classified both Failure to
Appear and Failure to Pay as misdemeanors, and not
infractions, thereby affecting an individual’s criminal
record. Cal. Veh. Code § 40000.25. Additionally, the
California Penal Code states that willful failures to
appear constitute misdemeanors, “regardless of the
disposition of the charge upon which he or she was
originally arrested.” Cal. Penal Code § 853.7.
19	 See Cal. Veh. Code § 14601.1(a).
20	 In conversations with public defenders across
the state, the most common reason for a license
suspension when a defendant faces a charge of
Veh. Code § 14601.1(a) is a Failure to Appear in
court on a traffic ticket or Failure to Pay a traffic
ticket. Other reasons include insurance lapses
or medical conditions commonly recognized as
dangerous for drivers. See Interview with Theresa
Zhen, Skadden Fellow, A New Way of Life Reentry
Project, Los Angeles, Cal. (March 15, 2016.)
21	 The data from the Sheriff’s Departments only
contains information about arrests and charges for
Veh. Code §§ 14601.1(a) and 40508(a) violations.

Stopped, Fined, ARRESTED - Racial Bias in Policing and Traffic Courts in California | 42

The data does not account for stops and that did
not result in an arrest or booking. This limitation in
data means that we are undercounting the number
of times California residents have been stopped,
searched, issued a verbal or written warning
or issued a citation. As a result, there are likely
many more stops and citations for Driving with a
Suspended License and Failure to Appear/Pay than
are represented here.
22	 Jennifer L. Eberhardt et al., Seeing Black: Race,
Crime, and Visual Processing, 87 J. Pers. & Soc.
Psychol. 876. Social science research provides helps
explain why law enforcement disproportionately
targets these neighborhoods. This research shows
that explicit and implicit biases create a belief that
how one is racially assigned signifies one’s degree
of criminality. Additionally, a male police officer
who stereotypes black males as hypermasculine
may feel a threat to his own sense of his own
masculinity, triggering a more aggressive response
to Black male drivers. These types of biases, the
research indicates, lead police officers to use
traffic stops to deter Black or brown drivers from
engaging in what officers assume to be criminal
conduct. See also Epp, supra note 13, at xv.
23	 C.L. Ruby & John C. Brigham, A Criminal Schema:
The Role Of Chronicity, Race and Socioeconomic
Status in Law Enforcement Officials’ Perceptions
of Other, 26 J. Appl. Soc. Psychol. 95 (1996).
24	 Phillip Atiba Goff et al., The Essence of Innocence:
Consequences of Dehumanizing Black Children, 106
J. Pers. & Soc. Psychol. 526 (2014).
25	 Greg Moran, Lawsuit Claims ‘North of 8’ Favoritism
at SDPD, S.D. Union Trib., Feb. 15, 2016, available at
http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/2016/
feb/15/sdpd-bias-lawsuit/?Watchdog.
26	 Id.
27	 See Judicial Council of Cal., Court Statistics
Report xv-xi (2015), available at http://www.courts.
ca.gov/documents/2015-Court-Statistics-ReportIntroduction.pdf.
28	 While this report uses the terms “Black” and
“Latino”, in this instance the terms “African-

American” and “Hispanic” have been used to keep
consistent with the report cited.
29	 The study emphasized that “[i]n interpreting the
citation disparities, however, it is important to keep
in mind the difference between the conditional and
unconditional liability of being cited. While Table 9
shows that the citation likelihood conditional on
being stopped is less for African Americans than
whites, Table 6 shows the unconditional likelihood
of African Americans being cited was significantly
higher than that of whites. Even after controlling
for the local crime rate, African Americans are so
much more likely to be stopped than whites, that
their probability of being cited is higher.” Ayres,
supra note 11, at 7.
30	 BondGraham, supra note 9.
31	 Racial disparities in liquid assets are compounded
when one encounters a racially skewed justice
system. A recent study in Los Angeles showed
that Black families only had $200 in liquid asserts,
Mexicans had only $0, other Latinos had only $7.
Malany De La Cruz-Viesca et al., The Color of Wealth
in Los Angeles 25 (2016), available at http://www.
aasc.ucla.edu/besol/Color_of_Wealth_Report.pdf.
32	 See, e.g., DMV Point System in California, Cal. Dep’t
of Motor Veh., http://www.dmv.org/ca-california/
point-system.php.
33	 Farida Jhabvala Romero, Driving with Suspended
License Top Crime in Menlo Park, Many Lose Cars,
Peninsula Press, June 17, 2015, available at http://
peninsulapress.com/2015/06/17/driving-suspendedlicense-top-crime-in-menlo-park-california/.
34	 Am. Civil Liberties Union of N. Cal., supra note 5,
at 4.
35	 California is comprised of 58 counties, each with its
own traffic court. Each county has between 1 and
46 branches of the superior court, adding up to
nearly 500 different courthouses in the state. Each
county has one or more law enforcement agencies
that are empowered to issue traffic citations. The
California Highway Patrol is a state-wide agency
that has jurisdiction to issue traffic citations
anywhere in the state. Within the 58 counties,

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there are 482 municipalities. Each city has its own
municipal code, its own police force, and its own
authority to prosecute infractions. See generally
Judicial Council of Cal., supra note 27.
36	 See Cal. Veh. Code § 5204(a).
37	 Id. § 273159(a).
38	 See Cal. Penal Code §§ 653.20-653.28.
39	 Id. § 640(c)(1).
40	 Californians are no longer faced with merely the
base fine, but are now responsible for penalty
assessments and surcharges that more than triple
the original fine. On top of those fees, there are
add-on fees for numerous state and county funds.
See Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the
Bay Area et al., supra note 2, at 9.
41	 See Cal. Veh. Code § 40508(a).
42	 Cal. Penal Code § 1214.1.1
43	 In California, third party collections agencies
like GC Services or Alliance One are known to
provide misleading information about debt. Press
Release, Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Issues
Consumer Alert on Debt Collectors Misleading
Consumers about Traffic Tickets and Infractions
Amnesty Program (Oct. 28, 2015), available at
https://oag.ca.gov/news/press-releases/attorneygeneral-kamala-d-harris-issues-consumer-alertdebt-collectors.
44	 See Cal. Veh. Code § 40509.5.
45	 Id.
46	 See Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the Bay
Area et al., supra note 2, at 13. Typically, someone
will find out about the FTA/FTP when he or she
gets a notice in the mail saying that his or her
driver’s license has been suspended. At that point,
to lift the license suspension, the person can pay
the full balance on the ticket or, in some counties,
set a “court date” (arraignment) to be seen by a
judge. To contest the ticket at the arraignment,
he must pay the entire fine up front. In either

situation, he or she must pay the entire amount
owed to get his or her license reinstated. Id. at 12.
47	 See generally Adie Tomer et al., Brookings
Institute, Missed Opportunity: Transit and Jobs
in Metropolitan American (2011), available at
http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/research/files/
reports/2011/5/12-jobs-and-transit/0512_jobs_
transit.pdf.
48	 See Tanvi Misra, Mapping Gentrification and
Displacement in San Francisco, The Atlantic: City
Lab (Aug. 31, 2015), available at http://www.citylab.
com/housing/2015/08/mapping-gentrificationand-displacement-in-san-francisco/402559/.
49	 Daniel Everett, San Francisco Housing Squeeze
Disparately Impacts African-Americans, S.F. Bay
View (Feb. 21, 2014), available at http://sfbayview.
com/2014/02/san-francisco-housing-squeezedisparately-impacts-african-americans/.
50	 PolicyLink & U. of S. Cal. Program for Env. and
Regional Equity, An Equity Profile in the San
Francisco Bay Area 23 (2015), available at http://
www.policylink.org/sites/default/files/documents/
bay-area-profile/BayAreaProfile_21April2015_
Final.pdf.
51	 See, e.g., Cal. Veh. Code § 12527.
52	 See, e.g., Becoming an IHSS Provider, Cal. Ass’n
of Public Authorities for In-Home Supportive
Services,
http://www.capaihss.org/faqs.
htm#become.
53	 See Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the
Bay Area et al., supra note 2.
54	 It would only be unlawful if the applicant had a
physical disability and was otherwise able to work,
which would constitute disability discrimination.
55	 A study by the National Bureau of Economic
Research found that in a controlled experiment
where identical resumes were sent out to
prospective employers, some with names that
were stereotypically “Black” names and others
with stereotypically “White” names, those with

Stopped, Fined, ARRESTED - Racial Bias in Policing and Traffic Courts in California | 44

Black-sounding names were 50% less likely
to get a call back from employers. Marianne
Bertrand  &  Sendhil Mullainathan, Nat’l Bureau
of Econ. Research, Are Emily and Greg More
Employable than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field
Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination
(2003), available at http://www.nber.org/digest/
sep03/w9873.html.
56	 Vera Institute of Justice, Incarceration’s Front
Door: The Misuse of Jails in America (2015).
57	 Cal. Veh. Code §§ 13352(a)(4), 13352.4(c).
58	 See, e.g., Cal. Penal Code § 987.5.
59	 Cal. Veh. Code § 14601.1(b)(1).
60	 Cal. Veh. Code § 42003(a) allows a driver to pay
off traffic fines by doing jail time, but does not
mention the substantial add-on fees that come
with every ticket. Some courts do not allow people
to pay fees through jail time, yet do not make it
clear to defendants that the fees will remain after
he or she spends time in jail.
61	 A body of literature concludes that the
psychological effect of incarceration is substantial,
even among those experiencing relatively shortterm confinement in a jail. See, e.g., Mika’il DeVeaux,
The Trauma of the Incarceration Experience, 48
Harv. C.R.-C.L. L. Rev. 257, 258 (2013); Hans Toch,
Men in Crisis: Human Breakdowns in Prison 149
(2007).
62	 See, e.g, Bruce Western, The Impact of
Incarceration on Wage Mobility and Inequality, 67
Am. Soc. Rev. 526 (2002).
63	 See, e.g, Julian P. Cristia, Rising Mortality and Life
Expectancy Differentials by Lifetime Earnings in
the United States (2009).
64	 Epp, supra note 13, at 135.
65	 The Associated Press, Justice Department: States
Should Not Jail Poor People Over Fine Nonpayment,
NBC News, March 14, 2016, available at http://
www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/departmentjustice-states-should-not-jailed-over-fine-

nonpayment-n537796.
66	 Epp, supra note 13, at 140.
67	 U.S. Dep’t of Justice, supra note 2, at 17.
68	 Jack Glaser, The Efficacy and Effect of Racial
Profiling: A Mathematical Modeling Approach
33 (2004), available at http://ist-socrates.
berkeley.edu/~glaserj/glaser_profiling_math_
model_061504.pdf.
69	 See supra note 16; supra note 8. Black and Latino
drivers are more likely than White drivers to be
patted down, frisked, searched, and told to exit
their vehicles after they are stopped. See Geoffrey
P. Alpert et al., Los Angeles Pedestrian and Motor
Vehicle Post-Stop Data Analysis Report (2006),
available
at
http://www.analysisgroup.com/
uploadedfiles/content/insights/cases/lapd_data_
analysis_report_07-5-06.pdf.
70	 U.S. Dep’t of Justice, supra note 2, at 17.
71	 See Lagos, Marisa, S.F. Supervisors’ Analyst
Recommends Smaller, Cheaper Jail, SFGate.com
(Jan. 23, 2014), available at http://www.sfgate.
com/politics/article/S-F-supervisors-analystrecommends-smaller-5167447.php. See also
Eaglin, Jessica, California Quietly Continues to
Reduce Mass Incarceration, Brennan Center
for Justice (Feb. 17, 2015), available at https://
www.brennancenter.org/blog/california-quietlycontinues-reduce-mass-incarceration (describing
California’s shifting tide away from mass
incarceration in the state).
72	 See
Judicial
Council,
California
Rules
of Court 4.105 (adopted Jun. 8, 2015),
available
at
http://www.courts.ca.gov/
documents/2015-07-08_2015-06-08_mtg_rule4_105.pdf.
73	 While this section discusses license suspensions
due to failures to appear in traffic court or pay
fines and fees, license suspensions are also used
to collect other court debt, such as child support.
See Family Code §17520. Also, while license
suspension may be appropriate when ordered

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by a court ruling on a safety-related Vehicle
Code violation resulting in a car accident, license
suspension should not be imposed on low-income
people who are simply unable to pay for property
or personal damages arising from an accident
74	 Dixon v. Love, 431 US 105, 113-14 (1977).
75	 Civil Rights Div., U.S. Dep’t of Justice, Dear
Colleague Letter (March 14, 2016), available at
https://www.justice.gov/crt/file/832461/download.
76	 Suspended/revoked working group, american
association of motor vehicle administrators
(aamva), best practices guide to reducing
suspended drivers 4 (Feb. 2013), available at
http://www.aamva.org/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.
aspx?id=3723.
77	 The debt relief portion of the Amnesty Program
is currently restricted to those with fines incurred
before January 1, 2013 and who have never made
a payment on their debt. Many counties require a
payment to apply for amnesty, effectively shutting
out many low-income people living hand-to-mouth
with income of only 30-40% of the Federal Poverty
Line. In some counties, the Amnesty program is
managed by private collections agencies, often
employing questionable, even illegal, collection
methods. As described in Appendix 2, the Amnesty
cut-off date should be extended to January 1,
2016 to account for the large number of people
who have gotten their licenses suspended in the
last three years. All administrative fees should be
waived for low-income people. Courts should
permit the performance of community service
in lieu of payment under the Amnesty Program.
The restrictions on victim restitution and open
warrants should be eliminated. Lastly, collections
agencies should not be permitted to ask any
Amnesty Program participant about any other
court-ordered debt.
78	 See Moran, supra note 25.
79	 One example of this is the Southern Coalition for
Social Justice, a North Carolina-based civil rights
nonprofit, which launched a website drawing on
public records to publish up-to-date stop, search,

and use-of-force data – broken down by race and
ethnicity. Ian A. Mance, SCSJ Launches Searchable
Website of NC Police Data, https://www.
southerncoalition.org/scsj-launches-searchablewebsite-of-nc-police-data/.
80	 This is in line with recommendations made by
the U.S. Department of Justice in its report
on Ferguson. U.S. Dep’t of Justice, supra note
2, at 90. Measures to reduce bias can include
(1) requiring police departments to provide
an implicit bias training, (2) requiring police
departments to develop a racial impact statement
to analyze policies, procedures and practices, and
(3) requiring departments to develop plans with
targets.
81	 The City of Durham, North Carolina adopted a
written consent-only search policy in late 2014
in response to data which showed “racial bias
and racial profiling” in their policing practices. A
neighboring city, Fayetteville, adopted a similar
policy and found traffic stops reduced by 50% and
searches went down by 60%. Jorge Valencia, Can
Vehicle Search Consent Forms Diminish Racial
Bias? Ask Fayetteville, NC, WUNC, Sept. 18, 2014,
available at http://wunc.org/post/can-vehiclesearch-consent-forms-diminish-racial-bias-askfayetteville-nc#stream/0.
82	 It is not novel to require that an agency achieve
threshold reductions. For example, California was
ordered by a federal court to reduce the state’s
prison population. See Respaut, Robin, California
prison reforms have reduced inmate numbers,
not costs, Reuters.com, Jan. 6, 2016, available
at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-californiaprison-budget-insight-idUSKBN0UK0J520160106.
83	 ZIP Code Tabulation Areas, U.S. Census, https://
www.census.gov/geo/reference/zctas.html.
84	 Note that not all the recommendations under this
section would not be necessary if the Legislature
retroactively applies a new policy to end all use of
license suspension for collection of court-ordered
debt, pursuant to Recommendation A.1, above.
85	 See Cal. Gov’t Code §§ 25257-25259.95.

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