BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  AB 432
                                                                  Page  1

          Date of Hearing:   May 2, 2011

                        ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORTATION
                               Bonnie Lowenthal, Chair
                     AB 432 (Hall) - As Amended:  April 26, 2011
           
          SUBJECT  :  Vehicles: automated traffic enforcement

           SUMMARY  :  Requires that a peace officer or law enforcement 
          agency issue the notice to appear for an automated enforcement 
          citation and that the notice be accompanied by a certificate of 
          mail obtained through the United States Postal Service, 
          completed by the local law enforcement agency.  

           EXISTING LAW:  

          1)Provides authority for automated enforcement at places where a 
            driver is required to respond to an official traffic control 
            signal, upon condition that various requirements are met.  

          2)Specifies that only a governmental agency, in cooperation with 
            a law enforcement agency, may operate an automated enforcement 
            system.  

          3)Specifies that a governmental agency may contract out its 
            duties to certify that the automated enforcement equipment is 
            installed and operating properly provided the agency maintains 
            overall control and supervision of the system.  

          4)Requires that the local government entity conduct a public 
            hearing on the proposed use of the automated enforcement 
            system prior to entering into a contract with a red light 
            camera vendor.  

          5)Requires that a contract between a governmental entity and a 
            vendor may not include a provision for payment to the vendor 
            based on the number of citations issued or the amount of 
            revenue generated, unless the contract was entered into prior 
            to January 1, 2004.  

          6)Requires that prior to issuing citations using an automated 
            enforcement system, the local entity must make a public 
            announcement of the system and issue only warning notices for 
            30 days.  









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          7)Requires that a peace officer or "qualified employee" of a law 
            enforcement agency must review the photographs and issues 
            citations, as appropriate.  

          8)Requires that a citation results in a "notice to appear," 
            which must be on a form approved by the Judicial Council 
            containing specific information, including the name and 
            address of the registered owner of the vehicle identified in 
            the photograph, the license plate number of the vehicle, the 
            violation charged, and the time and place when the person may 
            appear in court.  

          9)Requires that a notice to appear must be mailed within 15 days 
            of the alleged violation to the current address of the 
            registered owner of the vehicle, with a certificate of mailing 
            obtained as evidence of service.  

           FISCAL EFFECT  :  Unknown  

           COMMENTS  :  Automated enforcement systems were originally 
          authorized in California by SB 1802 (Rosenthal), Chapter 1216, 
          Statutes of 1994, to enforce rail crossings.  Two years later, 
          SB 833 (Kopp), Chapter 922, Statutes of 1995, authorized a 
          three-year demonstration period to test the use and 
          effectiveness of similar systems in reducing the incidence of 
          drivers running red lights at roadway intersections and in 
          identifying the drivers committing such violations and the 
          vehicles involved.  Installation of these systems was justified 
          primarily because motorists running red lights are a serious 
          traffic problem with potentially catastrophic results to other 
          drivers, and it is a difficult violation for a police officer to 
          witness and enforce at the time it is committed.   

          After reviewing the operations and effectiveness of the pilot 
          program, the Legislature enacted SB 1136 (Kopp), Chapter 54, 
          Statutes of 1998, to indefinitely authorize the use of automated 
          traffic enforcement systems, or "red light cameras," at 
          intersections.  Major modifications were made to the statutory 
          authority by AB 1022 (Oropeza), Chapter 511, Statutes of 2003, 
          as a result of an audit by the State Auditor that generally 
          concluded local governments needed to exert more control over 
          the operation of the automated traffic enforcement systems.  

          Under current practice, "red light camera" vendors are 
          contracted by local authorities to capture images of vehicles 








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          who fail to come to a complete stop at designated intersections. 
           The images are collected by the vendor and screened to 
          eliminate those images that fail to show evidence that a vehicle 
          failed to make a complete stop.  The remaining images are then 
          sent to local law enforcement where an officer reviews the 
          images and directs the vendor to send notices to appear for 
          those that clearly show violations.  
           
          The author notes that under current practice, when vendors send 
          out notices to appear to alleged violators, individuals 
          receiving the notices are confused as to the legitimacy of the 
          documents since the city and state shown on the mailing is 
          different from the locality where the violation occurred.  For 
          example, the author notes that for violations occurring in Elk 
          Grove California, notices to appear indicate that the mailing is 
          on behalf of the Elk Grove Police Department yet the address 
          shows a post office box in Phoenix, Arizona.  The author claims 
          that many individuals who receive these notices disregard them 
          since they are unaware that the mailing is from a law 
          enforcement agency.  

          Statutes related to the issuance of notices to appear for 
          automated enforcement violations specifies that a notice to 
          appear must be issued by a peace officer or by a qualified 
          employee of a law enforcement agency on a form approved by the 
          Judicial Council.  The author notes that when notices to appear 
          are mailed by vendors, they can be called into question if 
          challenged in court and that, on a number of occasions, these 
          court challenges result in the ticket being thrown out, 
          resulting in loss of revenue.  It is the author's contention 
          that failure of law enforcement to carry out the duties of 
          mailing citations and using appropriate evidence of service 
          forms violates the rights of individuals and causes the 
          citations to be overturned in court.  

          To correct this, the bill would clarify that a written notice to 
          appear must be issued by a peace officer or other qualified 
          employee of a law enforcement agency and that the certificate of 
          mailing, obtained through the United States Postal service, must 
          be completed by local law enforcement and accompany the notice 
          to appear.  

          Writing in response to this bill, the League of California 
          Cities cites concern that the bill would increase costs to 
          cities and possibly interrupt the operation of this traffic 








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          safety tool.  The League is further concerned that this bill 
          would result in direct costs to city police departments in 
          additional personnel hours and new equipment purchases with no 
          clear benefit to individuals who receive red light violation 
          notices.  

           Previous legislation  :  AB 1362 (Simitian) of 2010 would have 
          imposed additional requirements on the use of automated traffic 
          enforcement systems.  That bill died in the Assembly 
          Appropriations Committee.  

           REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION  :   

           Support 
          
          None on file

           Opposition 
           
          California League of Cities
           

          Analysis Prepared by  :   Victoria Alvarez / TRANS. / (916) 319- 
          2093