Online Traffic: Ability to Pay

The Judicial Council and eight California Superior Courts are working together to develop a new online option for people struggling with traffic court debt. The "MyCitations" tool allows people to look up their traffic citation, answer a series of simple questions and submit a request to the court for a possible reduction in the amount owed. Users can also request a payment plan, more time to pay or community service. An important alternative to appearing in person, this new option saves both the public and the courts significant time and resources.

Background

The Judicial Council of California (JCC) began studying options to minimize the impact of high fines and fees on low-income court users in 2016 with a successful grant proposal to the U.S. Department of Justice under the "Price of Justice Initiative."

An Ability to Pay Workgroup comprised of Superior Court presiding judges, traffic court commissioners, court executive officers, and representatives from the California State Association of Counties, the California District Attorneys Association, and the California Public Defenders Association came together to recommend strategies for addressing challenges encountered in traffic courts. The group agreed that improving access to a simple, standardized ability to pay process would bring benefits to the public and the courts.

With seed funding from the grant, JCC staff awarded a contract to Global Justice Solutions to develop a software prototype. The JCC and partner courts (Shasta, Tulare, Ventura, San Francisco, and Santa Clara) worked with the vendor to design a tool each court would deploy to conduct ability to pay determinations on-line. The resulting prototype, now called "MyCitations," allows users to make online requests for reductions in traffic fines and fees based on an individual's ability to pay.

With the passage of SB 847 as part of the 2018-19 budget bill, the Pilot Project expanded from five to allow for an additional three pilot court sites. JCC staff is currently working with Fresno and Monterey, and to finalize participation from the final court.

Participating Pilot Counties

The MyCitations: Ability to Pay tool is currently available in Shasta, Tulare, Ventura and San Francisco counties. Santa Clara, Fresno, and Monterey plan to adopt its use by the spring of 2020.

Additional functions will be added to the tool in a second phase of project development and the additional traffic court functions will be developed and implemented with all eight counties going live in 2020.

MyCitations Demo

Resources