BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                      



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          |SENATE RULES COMMITTEE            |                    SB 29|
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                                 THIRD READING


          Bill No:  SB 29
          Author:   Simitian (D) and Huff (R)
          Amended:  5/11/11
          Vote:     21

           
           SENATE TRANSPORTATION & HOUSING COMMITTEE  :  9-0, 3/29/11
          AYES:  DeSaulnier, Gaines, Harman, Huff, Kehoe, Lowenthal, 
            Pavley, Rubio, Simitian

           SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE  :  9-0, 05/09/11
          AYES:  Kehoe, Walters, Alquist, Emmerson, Lieu, Pavley, 
            Price, Runner, Steinberg


           SUBJECT  :    Vehicles:  automated traffic enforcement 
          systems

           SOURCE  :     Author


           DIGEST  :    This bill makes several changes to the laws 
          regarding automated traffic enforcement systems to ensure 
          that red light camera programs are designed to maximize 
          traffic safety and are implemented in a lawful and 
          transparent manner.

           ANALYSIS  :    Existing law authorizes the use of automated 
          traffic enforcement systems at railroad crossings and 
          intersections to record violations of unlawful grade 
          crossings and red light running.  

          Only a governmental agency, in cooperation with a law 
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          enforcement agency, may operate an automated enforcement 
          system.  Under existing law, "operating" a system means 
          that a governmental agency does the following:

          1.Develops uniform guidelines for screening and issuing 
            violations, processing and storing confidential 
            information, and selecting locations where automated 
            enforcement systems will be utilized.

          2.Establishes procedures to ensure compliance with those 
            guidelines.

          3.Certifies that the equipment is properly installed and 
            calibrated and is operating properly.

          4.Ensures that the equipment is regularly inspected.

          5.Inspects and maintains signs that warn drivers that an 
            automated enforcement system is in use.  These signs must 
            be visible to traffic approaching an intersection where 
            an automated enforcement system operates and clearly 
            identify the presence of the camera system at that 
            intersection.

          6.Oversees the establishment or change of signal phases and 
            timing.  The yellow light change interval must be 
            established in accordance with the Manual on Uniform 
            Traffic Control Devices, which is maintained by the 
            California Department of Transportation.

          7.Maintains controls necessary to assure that only those 
            citations that law enforcement personnel have reviewed 
            and approved are delivered to violators.

          A governmental agency may contract out its duties to 
          certify that the equipment is installed and operating 
          properly and to ensure that the equipment is regularly 
          inspected, provided the agency maintains overall control 
          and supervision of the system.

          Prior to entering into a contract with a vendor to 
          implement an automated enforcement system, the legislative 
          body of the local government (e.g., city council or county 
          board of supervisors) must conduct a public hearing on the 







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          proposed use of the system.  A contract between a 
          governmental agency and a vendor of automated enforcement 
          equipment 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.  

          Prior to issuing citations, an agency utilizing an 
          automated traffic enforcement system must make a public 
          announcement of the system and issue only warning notices 
          for 30 days. A peace officer or "qualified employee" of a 
          law enforcement agency reviews the photographs and issues 
          citations, as appropriate.  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.  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.

          Existing law contains several provisions regarding the 
          confidentiality of information collected for purposes of 
          issuing citations for violations captured by an automated 
          enforcement system.  Photographic records produced by 
          automated systems, as well as information obtained from the 
          Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) are confidential and may 
          only be used for traffic enforcement purposes.  This 
          information may be retained for up to six months from the 
          date the information was first obtained, or until final 
          disposition of the citation, whichever is later.  After 
          that time, the information is to be destroyed in a manner 
          that preserves the confidentiality of the person whose 
          information had been obtained.

          This bill:

             1.   Specifies that a governmental agency must post 
               signs within 200 feet of an intersection where a 
               system is operating and allows that the signs may be 
               posted only in the direction in which the system is 
               used to issue citations, rather than allowing an 
               agency to post signs either at all major entrances to 







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               the city or at intersections visible to traffic 
               approaching from all directions.  Governmental 
               agencies with systems in place as of the effective of 
               this bill that have not already posted signs in 
               accordance with this bill must do so by January 1, 
               2013. 

             2.   Clarifies that a governmental agency must perform 
               all of the activities that current law specifies to 
               operate an automated traffic enforcement system (e.g., 
               develop uniform guidelines for screening and issuing 
               violations, establish procedures to ensure compliance, 
               etc.). 

             3.   Allows governmental agencies with systems in place 
               as of the effective date of the bill that have not 
               already developed uniform guidelines for screening and 
               issuing violations, for the process and storage of 
               confidential information, or for selecting locations 
               where an automated enforcement system may be used to 
               do so by January 1, 2013. 

             4.   Allows governmental agencies with systems in place 
               as of the effective date of the bill that have not 
               already established procedures for compliance with its 
               guidelines to do so by January 1, 2013.

             5.   Requires, for systems installed after January 1, 
               2012, a governmental agency to make and adopt a 
               "finding of fact" that the system is needed at a 
               specified location for reasons related to safety.

             6.   Prohibits a governmental agency from considering 
               revenue generation beyond recovering the actual costs 
               of operating the system when it considers whether to 
               install and operate an automated traffic enforcement 
               system.

             7.   Provides that if, after a law enforcement agency 
               has issued a citation, the citing officer determines 
               that the citation or notice should be dismissed, the 
               citing agency may recommend in writing to the 
               magistrate or the judge that the case be dismissed.  
               The recommendation must include the reasoning for the 







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               recommendation and be filed with the court.

             8.   Requires that a notice to appear (i.e., citation or 
               ticket) include the following information:

                     The methods by which the registered owner of 
                 the vehicle or the alleged violator may view and 
                 discuss with the issuing agency, both by telephone 
                 and in person, the evidence used to substantiate the 
                 violation.

                     The contact information of the issuing agency.

                     Information that clearly and conspicuously 
                 identifies the vendor with which the governmental 
                 agency contracts for the operation of the system.

             1.   Permits the issuing agency and the vendor to issue 
               "courtesy notices" to the registered owner of the 
               vehicle or the alleged violator prior to issuing a 
               notice to appear.  Beginning on January 1, 2013, 
               courtesy notices must be on a form approved by the 
               Judicial Counsel, which must be developed in 
               consultation with the traffic and transportation 
               committee of the California Peace Officers' 
               Association.  The courtesy notice must contain the 
               following information:

                     The methods by which the registered owner of 
                 the vehicle or the alleged violator may view and 
                 discuss with the issuing agency, both by telephone 
                 and in person, the evidence used to substantiate the 
                 violation.

                     The contact information of the issuing agency.

                     Information that clearly and conspicuously 
                 identifies the vendor with which the governmental 
                 agency contracts for the operation of the system.

             1.   Prohibits a vendor from altering the notice to 
               appear, the courtesy notice, or any other form 
               approved by the Judicial Council.  If a form is found 
               to have been materially altered, the citation based on 







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               the altered form may be dismissed.

             2.   Requires the issuing agency or the vendor, when 
               contacting the registered owner of a vehicle prior to 
               issuing a notice to appear in an effort to determine 
               the identity of the driver, to state in a clear and 
               prominent fashion that the registered owner is not 
               required to provide the information and that failure 
               to provide the information will not result in 
               additional responsibility or liability associated with 
               the alleged violation.

             3.   Requires the vendor of an automated traffic 
               enforcement system, in cooperation with governmental 
               agencies that utilize such systems, to submit an 
               annual report to the Judicial Counsel that includes 
               the following information, provided the information is 
               "in the possession of, or readily available to," the 
               vendor:

                     The number of alleged violations collected from 
                 the automated traffic enforcement system.

                     The number of citations issued by a law 
                 enforcement agency based on information collected 
                 from the automated traffic enforcement system.

                     The number of citations involving a vehicle 
                 traveling straight through an intersection, turning 
                 right, and turning left.

                     The number and percentage of citations that are 
                 dismissed.

                     The number of traffic collisions at each 
                 intersection that have occurred prior to and after 
                 the installation of the system.

           Prior Legislation  

          This bill is similar to the final version of SB 1362 
          (Simitian) of last year, which was heard on the Senate 
          Floor on 6/1/10 (31-1), and was ultimately held in the 
          Assembly Appropriations Committee.  







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           FISCAL EFFECT  :    Appropriation:  No   Fiscal Com.:  Yes   
          Local:  Yes

          According to the Senate Appropriations Committee:

           Major Provisions                2011-12     2012-13    
           2013-14   Fund  
          Penalty revenue loss                                   
          unknown potential penalty revenue loss                 
          Various*
          Judicial Council                                  minor and 
          absorbable costs to approve                            
          Special**
                              forms and receive annual reports
          Local mandate            no state costs (local crime 
          disclaimer)         Local

          * General/Special
          ** Trial Court Trust Fund

           SUPPORT  :   (Verified  5/10/11)

          - - - 

           OPPOSITION  :    (Verified  5/10/11)

          Department of Finance

           ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT  :    According to the author's office:

               In response to the author's annual "There Oughta Be A 
               Law" contest last year, one constituent, Vera Gil, 
               reported that she had been mis-identified several 
               times by red light cameras located in Southern 
               California.  The vehicle captured in the photograph 
               was not hers, she was not the driver identified in the 
               photo, and she had not traveled to Southern California 
               where the violation was recorded.  Because private 
               companies are involved in the issuance of tickets from 
               red light camera systems, it sometimes took Ms. Gil 
               many steps to demonstrate her innocence.  

               Ms. Gil's experience prompted the author to 







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               investigate how red light camera programs were being 
               implemented around the state.  This bill is the 
               product of that investigation.

               Three red light camera vendors operate automated 
               traffic enforcement programs in California:  Redflex, 
               American Traffic Solutions (ATS), and Affiliated 
               Computer Systems (ACS).  Each vendor has its own 
               business model that it tailors to meet the preferences 
               and needs of the local agencies with which it 
               contracts.  As a result, there is tremendous variation 
               in how red light cameras programs are administered 
               throughout the state.  Examples of program elements 
               that may vary include whether the vendor or the law 
               enforcement agency screens incidents captured by the 
               system, the criteria used to screen incidents, what 
               kinds of notices are mailed to alleged violators, 
               which entity mails the notices, what information is 
               included on the notice, and how intersections are 
               identified for use of automated enforcement.  Even 
               something as seemingly straightforward as defining 
               what constitutes a red light violation may vary from 
               jurisdiction to jurisdiction.   

               In addition to the variation found in program 
               administration, there is not consistent agreement 
               about what current law actually requires to operate an 
               automated traffic enforcement system.  Furthermore, 
               the processes by which an alleged violator may learn 
               about and contest a citation are sometimes unclear 
               and, in certain cases, appear to be misleading.  For 
               example, sometimes the notice to appear was modified, 
               which current law requires to be on a form approved by 
               the Judicial Council, to serve purposes not addressed 
               by current law.  These modified forms appeared 
               official, but lacked the force of law. 
                
               The intent of this bill is to protect the rights of 
               Californians cited by automated traffic enforcement 
               systems.  In doing so, it prohibits the use of 
               automated systems for the purpose of raising revenue, 
               requires that governmental agencies demonstrate a 
               safety need when approving the use of such systems, 
               requires that local governments using these systems 







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               establish policies and procedures that help ensure 
               citations are properly and appropriately issued, and 
               improves the means by which a person may challenge 
               citations issued in error.

           ARGUMENTS IN OPPOSITION  :    Department of Finance is 
          opposed to this bill because it would make the installation 
          and operation of red light cameras more cumbersome for 
          local agencies, which is likely to result in their reduced 
          or discontinued use.  This could reduce annual revenues to 
          the State and to local jurisdictions by approximately $140 
          million annually.

          The bill, by imposing additional restrictions and 
          conditions on the use of red light traffic cameras, would 
          likely lead to increased costs for those entities choosing 
          to use red light cameras, which would reduce the incentives 
          to use them.  
           

          JJA:nl  5/11/11   Senate Floor Analyses 

                         SUPPORT/OPPOSITION:  SEE ABOVE

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