If you are one of millions of New Yorkers living paycheck-to-paycheck, paying just one traffic ticket could mean missing rent, going without healthcare, or living without basic necessities. If you can't afford to pay a fine or fees, you risk losing your driver's license, spiraling into debt, or being arrested.
These predatory court fees disproportionately tax on those who can least afford it. Since introducing mandatory surcharges and fees in the 1980s, lawmakers have repeatedly increased the amounts over the years. They even removed the ability of judges to waive the surcharge for people who could not afford to pay in 1995.
<![if !vml]><![endif]>As they explain in the video, this system of taxation-by-citation encourages policing for profit, extracts wealth from people living in poverty, and exposes Black and brown New Yorkers to more encounters with police. The surcharge for violations increased 178% more than the inflation rate. For misdemeanors and felonies, the surcharge increased by 92% and 75%, respectively, relative to inflation.