Readers React

Revoked driver licenses: modern-day debtors' prisons

To the editor: The problem of poverty-stricken Californians who have their licenses suspended because they can't pay fines reminds me of debtors' prisons in England, where someone who owed money was confined — making it impossible for him to earn any money. ("Driver's license suspensions push poor deeper into poverty, report says," April 8)

Many people cannot get to work without driving. So then, how can they earn money to pay the fine?

A good solution would be to make the fines proportional to income. That makes sense if the purpose is to deter dangerous or illegal behavior. When the rich pay the same fine as the poor, there's little incentive for them to follow the law.

So rather than just decreasing the fines, why not make the fines proportional to income? What could be more fair?

Bill Roundy, Orange

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To the editor: While I understand that escalating fees and penalties from driver's license suspensions may be a more subtle form of debtors' prison, I also wonder if just reducing these costs will put more rule-breaking, potentially dangerous drivers on our roads.

The rules were developed in response to tragic consequences from unsafe drivers. I suggest that reducing penalties is workable only if a mandatory driver's education program is attached, to reinforce the concept of abiding by the law.

Imjung Kwuon, Porter Ranch

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To the editor: Where does personal responsibility come into play? Drivers are losing licenses over unpaid traffic fines, thereby going deeper into poverty; amnesty is being considered as a solution.

Some of us have made a mistake by parking in a wrong spot or perhaps failing to observe a traffic regulation for which we pay the consequence, yet it seems we are now to the point where amnesty is the pragmatic solution.

Should we not question how our society has weakened to the level where "amnesty" has become the solution to several problems?

Kathleen Robertson, Orinda, Calif.

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