Traffic tickets and low-level misdemeanors aren’t supposed to ruin lives and cost taxpayers millions.
For most of these offenses, paying a fine or arguing a case before a judge should be a fairly straightforward, low-hassle matter.
Yet there are plenty of reasons why these minor violations end up as major problems.
People can’t afford to pay the fines. Taking off work in order to appear in court can be difficult, especially for people who have children, mobility issues, or inflexible jobs. Fears of bias – racial, economic, gender – in the courtroom can prevent some from even addressing their legal issues until they’re compelled to do so. And for a person who possesses even a tiny element of a lack of self-confidence (hint: we all do), courts are intimidating places.