Fresno County is changing the way it handles traffic fines

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno County is changing the way it handles traffic fines. They are one of eight California counties that was threatened with legal action by the American Civil Liberties Union. Before Monday, when you got a traffic citation in Fresno County, you were required to pay bail whether you were innocent or not. But after pressure from the ACLU, Fresno County is changing their ways.

Up until last week -- a spokesperson for the ACLU California -- said people were forced to pay or denied a trial.

"It's unfair to be forced to pay the penalty without first having a chance to prove your innocence," said legal counsel Marley Degner.

According to a Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights report, more than four million California drivers had their licenses suspended in the last eight years, because they couldn't pay their fines for infractions. The ACLU said they first became aware of the issue in 2012.

"We just kept receiving more and more evidence of this practice and that it wasn't confined to just one or two counties but it was a widespread problem," said Degner.

Presiding Judge Jonathan Conklin of Fresno County Superior Court gave us this statement -- "We are aware of the revised rule and fully intend to comply with its mandate." The judicial council adopted the rule Monday for eight counties including Fresno, Mariposa, Tulare and Madera.

The ACLU said the rule goes in effect Monday but they have until September to change their written forms and websites.

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