New bill means you’ll stay on the road, even if you couldn’t pay your traffic fines

New bill means you’ll stay on the road, even if you couldn’t pay your traffic fines

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Some drivers who can’t afford to pay their traffic tickets could be getting relief from the state.

It’s due to legislation passed in both the Senate and Assembly. The bill makes it so the state can’t suspend a person’s license for failure to pay fines from some traffic violations, including many moving violations. Supporters say it would end a practice that has hurt thousands of New Yorkers.

“This is a counterproductive collection method that leads people to lose jobs, end up in the criminal legal system,” said attorney Ranit Patel.

The fines won’t disappear. Instead, a payment plan would be set up for those who are financially struggling. Lawyer Ranit Patel says this approach is working in other states.

“In Palm Beach Florida, when they offered payments plans, and started offering support instead of using a stick, they increased their collection by over a million dollars in five years,” Patel said.

Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush voted against the bill. He says the state needs a way to enforce payment of traffic tickets.

“What are we going to do? What can you hold against them? You can’t take their drivers license away,” Blankensbush said.

But Blankenbush says there is a part of the bill he agrees with.

“If someone can’t afford to pay their fine, let’s put them on a payment schedule. That’s okay,” he said.

Assemblyman Mark Walczyk, on the other hand, voted in favor of the bill, calling it an excellent piece of legislation.

“I applaud the sponsor of this bill for doing something that makes sense to those who are in poverty,” Walczyk said on the Assembly floor. “It allows them to pay over time, so that they’re not spiraling into poverty, losing their car, losing their license.”

The bill now needs a response from the governor, who can either veto it, or sign it into law.

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