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Senate Green-Lights Red-Light Camera Crackdown

Relief for drivers wrongfully ticketed for red-light violations may be in sight.

Ever get the feeling that red-light cameras have become less about public safety and more about generating cash for cities? If so, you have a friend in State Senator Joe Simitian.

The California State Senate today unanimously passed SB 1303, a bill by Simitian (D-Palo Alto) that would give drivers an easy way to contest red-light tickets and that would tightly regulate the use of right-light cameras. 

“This bill is designed to establish some ground rules around the use of red-light cameras, and make sure that drivers’ rights are protected,” Simitian said. “We want to be sure that if drivers get a ticket that they shouldn’t have, they have a way to contest the ticket that’s relatively quick and convenient.”

Simitian has been fielding complaints from drivers about the accuracy of the cameras—a subject that has spawned fiery debate in the years since they have begun popping up at busy intersections everywhere.  

“I don’t oppose red-light cameras per se,” said Simitian. “But I believe that traffic tickets should only be issued to improve public safety, not to raise revenue.”

The bill requires that camera locations be selected based on safety considerations, not their potential to generate revenue. It also requires cities and counties to follow state standards in placing and operating the cameras, and requires adequate signage to notify drivers when the cameras are in use.

The bill also prohibits so-called “snitch-tickets,” which frees innocent drivers for the requirement of identifying another driver in order to clear an inaccurate ticket, and makes it easier for drivers to get their ticket cleared.

The legislation is another product of Simitian’s “There Oughtta Be a Law” contest, which crowdsources policy suggestions from his constituents.

SB1303 was suggested by San Jose resident Vera Gil, who received multiple red-light tickets for a car in Southern California that she doesn’t own and has never driven, according to a statement Thursday by Simitian.

More detail about SB1303 is available here.

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Jim June 01, 2012 at 05:35 PM
This article doesn't mention, at all, the 500 pound Gorilla, the amendment Joe made this Tuesday, the 29th. In that last minute amendment, he relieved red light camera companies of their most significant legal liability, by legislating, "The printed representation of computer generated information, video, or photographic images stored by an automated traffic enforcement system does not constitute an out-of-court hearsay statement by a declarant." Simitian's amendment saves the companies the cost of fighting the two red light camera cases that have recently made their way to the Cal. Supreme Court. Next, the article says that the bill prohibits Snitch Tickets - a total falsehood. The closest that comes to being true is that a 2010 version of this bill prohibited the fake tickets. The Snitch Ticket prohibition never was in the current 2012 bill. Writer Aaron is not at fault on this, though. He got the bogus information from the press release Simitian posted on his senate site yesterday. SB 1303 started out a few months ago as a bad bill, and with this week's amendment, has turned into a horrible bill. Simitian is running for supervisor will continue to trumpet (falsely) that the bill "protects the rights of drivers," while it does the opposite. It helps the red light camera companies to shove $500 rolling right tickets down our throats. It saves them from having to argue their case in front of the Supreme Court. This bill needs to be stopped.
George September 01, 2012 at 09:46 PM
I have liked some of Senator Simitian's legislation, but SB 1303 is a crock. It is not what it purports to be. Now it is sitting on Governor Brown's desk. If you don't like this bill, go to gov.ca.gov and tell Brown to veto it.

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