Traffic Division 2017
Throughout 2016 and into 2017, there was a spotlight on the processing of traffic citations in all courts across the state. The state’s Amnesty Program for traffic citations, which began in 2015 and ended in March 2017, resulted in many hundreds of defendants using the program. Our court’s financial and collections programs continue working approved amnesty cases with still-pending issues and amounts owed. In the 18-month program, there was approximately $8 million in debt forgiveness on traffic matters for Contra Costa. The program also resulted in removal of 22,430 license suspensions.
Throughout 2016, many state-level Rules of Court concerning traffic case processing were revised and various other new ones were adopted, including the following:
1. Rule 4.105 was amended to require that trial court websites include a link to the statewide traffic self-help information posted on the California courts website;
2. Rule 4.106 requires establishment of uniform procedures in infraction cases for which the defendant has received a written notice to appear and has failed to appear or failed to pay;
3. Rule 4.107 requires that trial courts send reminder notices to traffic defendants before their initial appearance and specify what information must be provided in those notices; and
4. Rule 4.335 provides for standardized court procedures and notices to infraction defendants related to ability-to-pay determinations.
Staff from the Court’s Traffic Unit has worked diligently with Judge John Kennedy and Commissioner Lowell Richards and Commissioner Terrye Davis to implement the requirements of those new rules. There were many changes to case management programming and local financial procedures as well as training of management and court staff. We are pleased to report that Contra Costa is in compliance with all of these new rules.
With the movement of Juvenile Court to the Walnut Creek Courthouse, the traffic courtroom was relocated to a vacant downstairs courtroom, which was reconfigured to provide more space for parties’ tables and additional seating. State-of-the-art technology was added, including a large screen TV and audio system. Commissioner Davis presided over her first traffic calendar in her new courtroom on July 24, 2017.
The Centralized Traffic Unit staff continues to work hard to stay current on traffic citations received from police agencies. The number of citations has declined from 82,475 to in fiscal year 2015-16 to 73,745 in 2016-2017.
Looking toward 2018, we expect more state-level reviews of court processes, such as the imposition of motor vehicle license holds related to traffic cases.