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California Assembly Approves Red-Light Camera Restrictions

SACRAMENTO (CBS / AP) — The state Assembly has approved restrictions on governments’ use of cameras to catch drivers who run red lights.

The bill requires that red-light cameras be used for public safety, not to generate revenue from traffic fines. It also would force governments to clearly explain how to dispute a ticket and post a warning sign within 200 feet of an intersection with the cameras.

The Assembly approved it Tuesday on a 50-3 vote.

KCBS’ Barbara Taylor:

Sen. Joe Simitian introduced SB29 after a complaint from one of his constituents. The woman told the Palo Alto Democrat that she was repeatedly notified that she had been caught on red-light cameras in Southern California, but that the photos showed a different car and driver.

“There are fundamental problems with fairness, accuracy, accountability and due process,” said Simitian.

“I had a constituent who had three tickets for a car in Southern California. It wasn’t hers, different color, different model, different license plate. Three hundred miles away a car she’d never driven.”

That constituent found it almost impossible to get the tickets canceled and her plight prompted the senator to action.

The proposed legislation would require a demonstrated safety need to use the cameras and signage to notify drivers.

The measure also would make it easier to clear a wrongful ticket and would prohibit ‘snitch tickets’ that force people to identify who was driving if the vehicle’s owner wasn’t behind the wheel.

Finally, red light cameras could not be used to solely generate revenue.

The bill has been approved by the state legislature and is now on the governor’s desk.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

More from Barbara Taylor
  • Hao

    I’ve seen increased number of drivers running red lights through the past few years. Now I expect to see the number jump faster.

  • Eric Domejean

    About time. These people can just demand money and do not give you the ability to effectively fight your ticket. This is a revenue scheme pure and simple

  • HenryC

    This bill does not restrict the cities, it makes it easier to ticket us, and fool us. Simitian is not the motorist’s friend. He is a long time supporter of red light cameras, and consistently votes for bigger fines on motorists, more surcharges. This current bill is his
    attempt to give the appearance of doing something, to deceive his many
    constituents who are calling his offices to complain about the ticket
    mills in his district and north of it on the Peninsula.
    The bill actually makes things worse. For example, it reduces the number of warning signs, from four per intersection under current law, to just one or two. The bill also muddles the current law giving the police only 15 days to get red light camera tickets into the mail. If Simitian really wanted to help motorists, he would have done a bill to cut the fine for rolling right turns, like what Asm. Jerry Hill (San Mateo) proposed last year.

    I am actually more concerned about another bill going thru the legislature right now, and the fact that no one seems to be writing about it. It is AB 529 by Asm. Gatto (Glendale), and it will allow cities to reduce posted speed limits by 5 mph. The lower posted speed will, in turn, allow them to shorten yellows to produce more red light camera tickets (four of the sponsoring cities have red light cameras). How many more tickets? Since the average “late time” on a red light camera violation is about 0.4 second, the 0.3 or 0.4 second shortening permitted by a 5 mph decrease in the posted limit will increase the number of tickets by at least 50%. Plus, shorter yellows are associated with a higher accident rate.

    If you too are concerned, phone the governor at (916) 445-2841 and ask him to veto both SB 29 and AB 529.

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