LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- A big change is coming to Nevada’s criminal justice system. Most traffic tickets will no longer be considered criminal offenses and people will no longer be going to jail for unpaid tickets.

Governor Steve Sisolak signed Senate Bill 219 and Assembly Bill 116 on Tuesday afternoon. The legislation will end Nevada’s practice of issuing bench warrants and suspending driver’s licenses when people can’t afford to pay for minor traffic tickets.

“I’m excited for our community … who can now breathe a little bit, actually a lot,” Akiko Cooks said. She has been pushing to decriminalize traffic tickets in Nevada for years with the Mass Liberation Project and the Free Black Mamas initiative.

According to the Fines and Fees Justice Center, when the pandemic forced courts to close in March last year, more than 250,000 traffic warrants were outstanding in Las Vegas Justice Court alone.

Cooks shared sometimes the women she helps are in jail because of a traffic ticket with a bail as low as $50 dollars and just can't afford to pay.

“The impact and the trauma that happens just from being in jail for two to three hours is a lot,” Cooks said.

Last month, Cooks organized the “Black Mama Bailout” fundraiser, which paid the bails of women in Las Vegas area jails. Nearly all the women who had their bails paid were stuck in jail because of traffic tickets turned into warrants.

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“We bailed out 24 and only one was non-traffic,” Cooks said.

Decriminalizing minor traffic violations does not mean fines will go away, instead they will go to collections.

Part of the legislation is set to go into effect July 1, 2021, the rest by January 1, 2023. By January 1, 2023, every court in Nevada will have to cancel outstanding bench warrants if someone failed to appear on a traffic ticket.

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(8) comments

mohave aviator

Ridiculous! First off, In all my time working as a court officer, I have never seen a person locked up because they couldn’t pay a ticket. Courts are typically very willing to work with people who demonstrate a good faith effort to work with the court. Warrants are issued when people don’t show up or are in contempt.

 

All this legislation does is encourage lawlessness. These Democrats are like the mother who bribes her kid with a new toy, if he’ll stop throwing this temper tantrum at the supermarket. It seems there is nothing people won’t do, just to stay in power. Even when it means putting lives and risk, and letting people decide for themselves, what laws apply then. Good job geniuses!

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Paris

I agree with most of what you say but do know that in Oregon they will in fact, put you in jail for failure to pay traffic tickets.

Desertdoyle

So does that mean the Black Mammas Bailout only bailed out Black women? I’m honestly asking the question. If so, I have to ask why any organization that specifies a particular race in both their name & as a stipulation that members & recipients of aide or assistance belong to the specific race is not only perfectly acceptable, but even applauded by our government & society…… unless of course, the specified race is White. In that case the organization would be deemed as racist & would be forced to shut down by either government, public demand, or special interest groups. I just don’t understand why in this country, White is not seen as a race group that is allowed to ethically or legally create organizations that require it’s members & benefactors to belong to the White race group, yet it’s perfectly acceptable for any other race group to do so. I was not raised to use the color of a person’s skin to determine their eligibility for membership in groups, or to determine their value as a human being. This practice of labeling groups with color or race of any kind should either be legal or illegal for people of ALL race groups, including White.

Silvermane

So the unpaid fines will just go to collections, according to the article. Never mind how many millions of people have become masters at ignoring & dodging bill collectors over the years. And if they can't afford to pay a traffic ticket, the threat of collections dinging their credit report doesn't really matter to them, since they probably have double-digit credit ratings already...if any rating at all.

Dems are just promoting more law breaking without consequences, like so many other cities around the country. We're heading in the wrong direction as a country & state.

Nevermore

Expect to pay more in property taxes, and sales taxes since we have to make up the lost of income somewhere.

ALLLIVESMATTER

Our governor is a moron. Let's all get tickets. You don't have to pay. You don't have to be held accountable. We all know what this is about. Illegal aliens coming by the thousands now. They'll be able to buy cars and not register or have insurance. Once they get pulled over and issued tickets they know they won't have to pay or even fear going to jail and risk being deported. In the meantime once they go to the DMV for an i.d. guess what? INSTANT VOTER REGISTRATION. This makes me want to puke. Anything for a vote for the socialist/communist Democrats. We have lost our country because of despicable human beings like governor Sleazolak

Silvermane

Bingo.

Paris

I'm good with this but the thing that stood out most for me was the fact that the woman mentioned in the article was jailed because she couldn't afford a $50 ticket. I have to ask - how can she afford insurance to be on the road in the first place then??

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