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The Oppression Of The Lower Class By

The Oppression of the Lower Class by the California Department of Motor Vehicles High traffic fees and fines quite often cause financial difficulties for the lower class. Transportation has become a necessity over the past one hundred years. Unfortunately with the constant improvements in vehicle technologies the cost of owning and maintaining a vehicle has constantly increased.

The Oppression of the Lower Class by the California

Department of Motor Vehicles

High traffic fees and fines quite often cause financial difficulties for the lower class. Transportation has become a necessity over the past one hundred years. Unfortunately with the constant improvements in vehicle technologies the cost of owning and maintaining a vehicle has constantly increased. Going hand in hand with these vehicle improvements the California Vehicle Code (CVC) has become extensive, covering every possible driving mistake with a traffic infraction. Following these changes the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has constantly grown to cover the needs of the 27 million vehicles (DMV update 1998, 3) owned in the state with high vehicle registration fees and traffic fines.

The problem with these fees and fines is that they cause compounding problems if left unpaid. Running a little late on a registration fee will begin with a 10% increase if 1-10 days late and jump all the way to 60% if 31 days – 1 year late. These are penalties, which target the poor. A financially comfortable licensee will not have the problems of paying a modest fee to the DMV thus, avoiding late fees. Supposing an upper class licensee forgot to pay the resulting penalty would not cause any hardship or their PG&E shut off. (CA DMV, web-site)

Leaving the registration unpaid for a couple of months, the licensee hypothetically gets pulled over and given tickets for driving an unregistered vehicle and speeding. The registration fees continue to compound and the registration goes unpaid. Owing more to the DMV the licensee cannot afford the cost of living and excessive fines. Registration fees get coupled to the fines imposed and before the licensee can get out of the debt he/she receives a notice for a court appearance.

According to CVC 13353.2 a court can order a license suspended for failing to pay fines. With a suspended license, the driver is forced to find another means of transportation to and from work. For some this problem may result in a driver continuing to drive, risking additional citations and larger fines. According to the Law SB 833 by Sen. Quentin Kopp, San Francisco. The “Police can immediately seize and impound a vehicle involved in a traffic accident if the driver is operating the vehicle with a suspended or revoked license.” (NewsBank News File, web-site)

There is another way a driver can lose their license. The DMV keeps a driving record on all drivers with a running point tally, accumulating every moving violation a licensee receives. The points, either one or two are given according to the type of offense committed. Any driver accumulating four points in one year will be considered a negligent operator and may have their license suspended. Six points in two years or eight points in three years results in the same punishment. (CA DMV, web-site)

With escalating fines the hypothetical driver can encounter an even greater problem trying to renew registration and have his/her suspension expunged. In the California Vehicle Code, 14911.

“When a notice of failure to appear or failure to pay a fine is recorded on the department records pursuant to Sections 40509 and 40509.5, the fine and any penalty assessments shall be a lien upon all vehicles of the defendant of a type subject to registration under this code.”

Meaning that for excessive fines the court can order a vehicle confiscated and auctioned in order to expunge the debts a driver has accrued.

Further illustrating the lack of compassion for the poor by the DMV. Foreign immigrants moving into the state of California now have further difficulties acquiring a license. According to an article in the Orange County Register “As of March 1, 1994 DMV clerks will be required to verify the legal presence in this country of first-time applicants for driver’s licenses and state identification cards.” This law will leave immigrants across the state driving without a license or insurance. (Christensen / Legon, b1)

Will the poor advance in economic status or education levels if they are unable to drive to and from work or school because of escalating fees? A neighboring state provides their drivers with very cheap services.

The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) has many beneficial programs to assist their drivers financially. Registration fees are biannual, and cost the licensee a mere $30.00. Yes, that is only $30.00 every 2 years! Oregon legislation does not require smog checks which saves drivers another $30.00 at the time of registration or sale. ODOT also slashes a traffic infraction fine in half. If, the driver has a clean driving record and pays off the fine by its due date. (Oregon DMV web-site)

The California DMV will inform license holders that they are assisting drivers with tax reductions. They are accomplishing this by informing licensee’s that they are receiving a 25% savings on the vehicle license fee. This 25% saving does not actually apply to the entire bill but only a small section of the bill. These are the same tactics storeowners use to assist a shopper’s decision making process in order to make a purchase. By jacking up the prices/rates, and then marking savings off the price, the consumer believes that they are saving money. I’d propose that the DMV provide us with true savings, not fraudulent lines that provide a driver piece of mind.

The California DMV also attempts to assist drivers with the sliding fee scale. Using this scale the annual registration fees are adjusted according to the value of a car according to the Kelley Blue Book values. I propose that the DMV take this sliding scale one step further. By linking a drivers California tax information to the DMV fee scale the DMV would then be able to provide the lower class with lower registration fees.

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune states that “Nearly 28 percent of the cars on the state’s streets and highways are uninsured.” Insurance Commissioner Chuck Quackenbush stated that this “underscores the obvious: People who can’t afford insurance drive without it.” High insurance rates coupled with high DMV fees are costing the State of California more money than reducing our fees. Obviously, there is a link between being poor and uninsured. In lower class areas the rates of uninsured motorist can climb as high as 45 percent. (Riggs, p C-1)

The California vehicle code currently requires that any accident involving fatality, injury, or property damage in excess of $500 is reported to the department and that evidence of insurance be supplied. Drivers unable to supply such evidence have their license suspended for one year until evidence of insurance is supplied and maintained on file. (Marowitz, intro.)

The California Vehicle Code and the DMV have an obvious problem when the number of uninsured motorist is compared to the laws. In all research I conducted for this paper I was unable to find one study conducted by the DMV into the comparisons of financial status, and legally troubled drivers.

The CVC has laws on the books, which take advantage of people in many different situations. Child Support delinquency, the “DMV must suspend an occupational license, such as a commercial driver license of any licensee four months or more delinquent in court ordered child support payments.” An out of work or injured truck driver must lose his/her professional license because of a civil matter. This law not only robs a person of their profession but also adds to the financial difficulties they may have been enduring. (DMV update 94-95, 1-4)

Another similar law is AB 95 which “requires DMV to suspend the drivers license for six months of any person convicted of any drug related offense. Effective March 1, 1997.” A criminal offense that may have absolutely nothing to do with driving a vehicle en-powers the State of California to steal someone’s driver license. (DMV Update, 1-4)

Finding a disturbing manual by the DMV titled Implementation and Evaluation of a Pilot Project to Better Control Disqualified Drivers. I found a section instructing “Countermeasures taken by law enforcement,” that they should “use a Hot List of local disqualified drivers to identify suspension violators”. Not only is the DMV oppressing the lower class they are targeting troubled drivers for further profit.

The Department of Motor Vehicles and California Vehicle Code is not only oppressing the lower class; their laws are affecting all drivers. Insurance rates are higher because of fees paid for uninsured motorist. The DMV must staff personnel to process paperwork for such offenses. Courtroom time is occupied hearing these cases. All paid for by the drivers of California with registration fees and fines. The only option a driver has is to pay the fees or become a statistic. Oregon created an efficient cheap system. It’s time for California to do the same. Stop the oppression of the lower class.

Works Cited Page

Rodd Riggs. More than 1 in 4 California cars uninsured. The San Diego Union-

Tribune March 3, 1995. p. C-1, C-2

Uninsured Motorist Study, Leonard Marowitz. March 1990. introduction

California Vehicle Code (CVC) and California Law. DMV web-site

(www.dmv.ca.gov)

Implementation and Evaluation of a pilot project to better control disqualified

drivers. Department of Motor Vehicles. December 1990.

DMV Update. Department of Motor Vehicles. Winter 94-95 p 1-4.

Spring 1996 p 1-4. Spring/Summer 1998 p 3)

Oregon Department of Transportation web-site. (www.odot.state.or.us/dmv/veh-

fees.htm)

California Department of Motor Vehicles web-site. (www.dmv.ca.gov)

News Bank News File. (http://infoweb5.newsbank.com/bin.) Pg. 7 section

Impounds. (I made a mistake not printing the first page missing critical

information about newspaper and writer. That’s why I included Sen. Quentin Kopp, and the law SB 833)

Kim Christensen / Jeordan Legon No Papers, No License. The Orange County

Register, Jan. 3, 1994, p B1

Implementation and Evaluation of a pilot project to better control disqualified

drivers, Department of Motor Vehicles. December 1990, preface p. VI

Rodd Riggs. More than 1 in 4 California cars uninsured. The San Diego Union-

Tribune March 3, 1995. p. C-1, C-2

Uninsured Motorist Study, Leonard Marowitz. March 1990. introduction

California Vehicle Code (CVC) and California Law. DMV web-site

(www.dmv.ca.gov)

Implementation and Evaluation of a pilot project to better control disqualified

drivers. Department of Motor Vehicles. December 1990.

DMV Update. Department of Motor Vehicles. Winter 94-95 p 1-4.

Spring 1996 p 1-4. Spring/Summer 1998 p 3)

Oregon Department of Transportation web-site. (www.odot.state.or.us/dmv/veh-

fees.htm)

California Department of Motor Vehicles web-site. (www.dmv.ca.gov)

News Bank News File. (http://infoweb5.newsbank.com/bin.) Pg. 7 section

Impounds. (I made a mistake not printing the first page missing critical

information about newspaper and writer. That’s why I included Sen. Quentin Kopp, and the law SB 833)

Kim Christensen / Jeordan Legon No Papers, No License. The Orange County

Register, Jan. 3, 1994, p B1

Implementation and Evaluation of a pilot project to better control disqualified

drivers, Department of Motor Vehicles. December 1990, preface p. VI

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