BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  AB 432
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          ASSEMBLY THIRD READING
          AB 432 (Hall)
          As Amended  April 26, 2011
          Majority vote 

           TRANSPORTATION      14-0        APPROPRIATIONS      17-0        
           
           ----------------------------------------------------------------- 
          |Ayes:|Bonnie Lowenthal,         |Ayes:|Fuentes, Harkey,          |
          |     |Jeffries, Achadjian,      |     |Blumenfield, Bradford,    |
          |     |Blumenfield, Bonilla,     |     |Charles Calderon, Campos, |
          |     |Buchanan, Eng, Furutani,  |     |Davis, Donnelly, Gatto,   |
          |     |Galgiani, Logue, Miller,  |     |Hall, Hill, Lara,         |
          |     |Norby, Portantino,        |     |Mitchell, Nielsen, Norby, |
          |     |Solorio                   |     |Solorio, Wagner           |
          |     |                          |     |                          |
           ----------------------------------------------------------------- 
           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 (U.S.) 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 








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            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.  

          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  :  According to the Assembly Appropriations 
          Committee:  

          1)Unknown costs, possibly in the hundreds of thousands of 
            dollars, to local agencies for peace officer or law 
            enforcement staff time to issue written notices to appear, 
            instead of allowing contracted entities to issue those notices 
            (Local special funds).

          2)Unknown, potentially significant reduction in fine and penalty 
            revenues, possibly in the millions of dollars annually, (state 
            and local special funds), to the extent locals eliminate or 
            reduce use of automated traffic violation devices as a result 
            of this bill.  

          3)Potential reduction in court costs of an unknown amount, and a 
            corresponding increase in state and local revenue (state and 








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            local special funds), to the extent the bill reduces unpaid or 
            contested traffic violations.  

           COMMENTS  :  Automated enforcement systems were originally 
          authorized in California by SB 1802 (Rosenthal), Chapter 1216, 
          Statutes of 1994, to enforce rail crossings.  SB 833 (Kopp), 
          Chapter 922, Statutes of 1995, authorizes 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 
          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 








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          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, this 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 U.S. 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 
          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.  
           

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








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