BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  SB 1303
                                                                  Page  1

          Date of Hearing:   June 25, 2012

                        ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORTATION
                               Bonnie Lowenthal, Chair
                    SB 1303 (Simitian) - As Amended:  May 29, 2012

           SENATE VOTE  :  38-0
           
          SUBJECT  :  Vehicles: automated traffic enforcement systems

           SUMMARY  :  Revises procedures that local jurisdictions must 
          follow when installing and operating automated traffic 
          enforcement systems (red light cameras).  Specifically,  this 
          bill  :   

          1)Clarifies that computer-generated information stored by an 
            automated traffic enforcement system (red light camera system) 
            is presumed to be an accurate representation.  

          2)Requires local jurisdictions to post signs identifying the use 
            of red light cameras within 200 feet of an intersection where 
            they are in use.  Local jurisdictions with systems in place as 
            of January 1, 2013, must have signs posted in accordance with 
            this bill not later than January 1, 2014.  

          3)Specifies that local jurisdictions using red light cameras do 
            not need to post signs notifying the use of red light cameras 
            from directions not subject to the citation.  

          4)Eliminates the option for local jurisdictions to post signs at 
            major entrances to the city indicating that red light cameras 
            are in use.  

          5)Requires local jurisdictions operating red light cameras to 
            establish uniform guidelines by January 1, 2014, for screening 
            and issuing violations and for storage of confidential 
            information for systems installed after January 1, 2013.  

          6)Requires local jurisdictions, prior to installing a red light 
            camera system, to make and adopt a finding of fact 
            establishing the need for the system at the specific location, 
            for reasons related to safety.  

          7)Specifies that evidence from red light camera systems is not 
            hearsay.  








                                                                  SB 1303
                                                                  Page  2


          8)Prohibits a local jurisdiction from considering revenue 
            generation, beyond recovering actual costs of operating the 
            system, when considering whether or not to install and operate 
            a red light camera system.  

          9)Requires the vendor of a red light camera system, in 
            cooperation with the local jurisdiction, to submit an annual 
            report to the Judicial Council that includes the following:

             a)   The number of alleged violations captured by the red 
               light camera systems they operate;

             b)   The number of citations issued by law enforcement based 
               on the information collected;

             c)   Based on the overall number of red light camera 
               citations, the number of violations that involved traveling 
               straight through the intersection, turning right, and 
               turning left;

             d)   The number and percentage of red light camera citations 
               that are dismissed by the court; and,

             e)   The number of traffic collisions at each red light 
               camera-controlled intersection that occurred prior to and 
               after the installation of the red light camera.  

         10)          Specifies that if, after law enforcement has issued 
           a red light camera citation, the citing officer determines that 
           the citation or notice should be dismissed, the citing agency 
           may recommend in writing to the court that the case be 
           dismissed and the court may dismiss the case.  

          11)          Requires a notice to appear to contain the 
            following information:  

             a)   The method that the registered owner of the vehicle or 
               alleged violator may view and discuss the evidence used to 
               substantiate the violation by phone and in person; and,

             b)   The contact information of the issuing agency.  

          12)          Provides a specific illustration of the form that 
            must be used for the notice to appear and courtesy notice 








                                                                  SB 1303
                                                                  Page  3

            which specifies that the registered owner of the vehicle may 
            opt not to identify the driver of the vehicle.  

          13)          Prohibits the vendor or issuing agency from 
            altering the notice to appear, courtesy notice, or any other 
            form approved by the Judicial Council.  

          14)          Specifies that if the form is found to be 
            materially altered, the citation based on the altered form may 
            be dismissed by the court.  

          15)          Makes related, clarifying amendments.  

           EXISTING LAW  :

          1)Specifies that printed representation of computer information 
            and images stored on a video or digital medium is presumed to 
            be an accurate representation.  

          2)Requires local jurisdictions that operate red light cameras to 
            clearly indicate the system's presence by posting signs that 
            are visible to traffic approaching from all directions or by 
            posting sighs at all major entrances to the city.  

          3)Requires local jurisdictions that operate red light cameras to 
            establish uniform guidelines for screening and issuing 
            violations and for the processing and storage of confidential 
            information as well as procedures for compliance with the 
            guidelines.  

          4)Requires local jurisdictions that operate red light cameras to 
            perform various administrative functions including 
            establishing guidelines for their placement and operation.  

          5)Specifies a notice to appear for a red light camera violation 
            constitutes a complaint to which the defendant may enter a 
            plea as long as the citation is issued by a law enforcement 
            agency and delivered by mail within 15 days to the current 
            address of the vehicle's registered owner.  

          6)Requires the notice to appear to contain the name and address 
            of the person, the license plate number of the person's 
            vehicle, the violation charged including a description of the 
            offense, and the time and place of the scheduled court 
            appearance set at least 10 days after the notice to appear has 








                                                                  SB 1303
                                                                  Page  4

            been delivered.  

          7)Authorizes a governmental entity to issue a citation to a 
            person identified by the registered owner of the vehicle as 
            being the driver at the time of the alleged violation.  The 
            notice issued to the registered owner requesting 
            identification of the driver is typically called a courtesy 
            notice.  

           FISCAL EFFECT  :  According to the Senate Appropriations 
          Committee, this bill would likely result in minor ongoing costs 
          to Judicial Council to compile and maintain reports received 
          from operators of red light cameras as well as non-reimbursable 
          local costs to post signs and develop uniform guidelines and 
          procedures.  Additionally, opponents of the bill contend that 
          the provision regarding courtesy notices could result in a 
          substantial loss of ticket revenue.  

           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.  The installation of these systems were 
          considered justified primarily because red light running is 
          considered a serious traffic problem that can have catastrophic 
          results.  

          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 red light 
          cameras at intersections.  Major modifications were made to this 
          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.  

          According to the author, the intent of this bill is to preserve 
          the ability of red light camera systems to operate while 
          bringing a greater degree of fairness to their use with 
          particular attention to concerns about accuracy, privacy, and 








                                                                 SB 1303
                                                                  Page  5

          due process.  Specifically, the bill address the evidentiary use 
          of red light camera photographs, notification signage, the 
          prohibition against using red light cameras as a revenue 
          generation tool, requirements for data collection with regard to 
          red light camera violations, dismissal of red light camera 
          citations, and the use of courtesy notices.  
           
          Hearsay Rule  :
           
           The 2nd District Court of Appeals in Los Angeles published two 
          decisions recently concerning automated red light camera system 
          evidence submitted to convict violators of running red lights.  
          In February, a three-judge panel on the appellate court ruled in 
          People v. Borzakian (2012) that an officer testifying in the 
          case was not qualified to authenticate video and picture 
          evidence, because the city had contracted for the maintenance 
          and operation of the automated traffic enforcement system and 
          therefore operating the system was not part of the ordinary 
          course of business for the police department.  The city's 
          evidence was not properly admitted because the officer could not 
          authenticate the videos and pictures, and without this evidence, 
          nothing supported the alleged violation.  The court reversed 
          Borzakian's conviction based on this finding.  

             

           Later that month, in People v. Goldsmith (2012), a different 
          three-judge panel from the same appellate court came to a 
          different conclusion.  The panel determined that testimony on 
          the accuracy and reliability of computer systems is not required 
          for photos or video to be admitted as evidence unless 
          alternative evidence is introduced casting doubt on the photo or 
          video's accuracy.  Because Goldsmith did not provide any 
          substantial evidence undermining the reliability of the video 
          and photographic evidence, the court concluded that the evidence 
          did not need to be authenticated and therefore upheld the 
          conviction.  



          According to the author, these conflicting decisions demonstrate 
          a need for clarification in statute regarding the evidentiary 
          standards required for prosecuting red light camera violations.  
          The National Motorists Association (NMA), however, believes that 
          the provision meant to clarify the statue instead eliminates any 








                                                                  SB 1303
                                                                  Page  6

          possibility for state courts to rule photographic evidence 
          generated by red light cameras lacks foundation.  The NMA claims 
          that this bill will therefore result in persons receiving red 
          light camera citations being deprived of their basic right to 
          challenge the evidence used against -- eliminating a significant 
          legal hurdle for those who operate red light cameras while 
          eliminating the opportunity for motorists to defend themselves 
          in court.  It is anticipated that the issues raised by the 
          opposition will be addressed when the bill is heard in the 
          Assembly Judiciary Committee.  
          
          Signage:

           Currently, the law requires local jurisdictions to place signs 
          indicated red light cameras are in use either at all city 
          entrance roads or at all approaches to the photo enforced 
          intersection.  The majority of jurisdictions choose to erect 
          signs at individual intersections because it is generally 
          believed that the warning signs, in addition to the presence of 
          the red light camera, act as a deterrent to red light running 
          thereby reducing red light violations and improving safety.  

          This bill would eliminate a local jurisdiction's option of where 
          to post red light camera notices by eliminating requiring that 
          signs be placed at individual photo enforced intersections 
          within 200 feet of the intersection in the direction that 
          citations are being issued.  Additionally, the bill would 
          require local jurisdictions with red light camera systems in 
          place as of January 1, 2013 to have these signs posted no later 
          than January 1, 2014.  According to the author, this provision 
          would help to reduce the frequency of red light violations by 
          providing drivers with specific notice and information regarding 
          intersections they are about to enter.  

          The wording of this bill could be strictly interpreted to mean 
          that signs at city entrances could be taken down as of January 
          1, 2013, but that signs erected at individual intersections 
          would not need to be in place until January 1, 2014, potentially 
          leaving a one year span of time when no red light camera signage 
          would be required.  The author has agreed to address this 
          concern when the bill is heard in the Assembly Judiciary 
          Committee.  
           

          Finding of Fact  :








                                                                  SB 1303
                                                                  Page  7


          In an effort to prohibit local jurisdictions from installing red 
          light cameras merely to raise revenue, this bill would require 
          that local jurisdictions operating red light cameras to 
          establish uniform guidelines for screening and issuing 
          violations, as well as for the storage of confidential 
          information.  The bill would also prohibit a local jurisdiction 
          from considering revenue generation when evaluating whether or 
          not to operate a red light camera system.  The local 
          jurisdiction would also be required to make and adopt a finding 
          of fact that establishes the need for the system at a specific 
          intersection for safety-related reasons.  

          Opponents note that this bill does not require a local 
          jurisdiction to apply objective criteria when evaluating the 
          safety-related need and, in the absence of clear, objective and 
          uniform criteria, local jurisdictions and the public will have 
          not consistent measure of whether or not a given location truly 
          warrants the installation and operation of a red light camera.  

          Annual reporting  :

          This bill also requires red light camera vendors, in cooperation 
          with the local jurisdiction, to submit an annual report to the 
          Judicial Council that provides information regarding the number 
          and type of violations and citations issued at red light camera 
          intersections.  The information that vendors would be required 
          to submit includes the number of citations issued by law 
          enforcement based on the information collected, to total the 
          number of citations involving straight through violations versus 
          turning right and turning left, as well as the number and 
          percentage of citations that are dismissed by the court and the 
          number of traffic collisions at each intersections that occurred 
          prior to and after the installation of the red light camera.  
          The author notes that currently this information is held 
          exclusively by red light camera vendors and that by requiring 
          that this information be provided to the Judicial Council, the 
          information would be more broadly available for public scrutiny. 
           
           
          Ability to dismiss citations  :

          According to the author, the provision allowing a citation to be 
          dismissed was included in the bill in response to a complaint 
          brought forward by a constituent who experienced a number of 








                                                                  SB 1303
                                                                  Page  8

          problems with being misidentified by red light cameras in 
          Southern California.  According to the constituent, the vehicle 
          captured in a red light camera photograph was not hers nor was 
          she the driver identified in the photograph, however, because 
          private companies were involved in the issuance of the red light 
          camera citations, demonstrating her innocence was a lengthy and 
          involved process.  To keep this problem from happening to others 
          in the future, the author included language in the bill that 
          would authorize a citing office to recommend to the court that a 
          citation be dismissed and would also authorize a judge to 
          dismiss the citation.   
           
           Courtesy Notice (Notice of Non-liability)  :

          Courtesy notices are not actual citations but instead are 
          investigative tools to help police determine the identity of the 
          driver whose image was captured by a red light camera.  When a 
          police officer is unable to match the photograph of the driver 
          to that of the registered owner, the officer mails the 
          registered owner a courtesy notice (sometimes called a "snitch 
          ticket").  The form that is mailed to the registered owner 
          specifically requests that registered owner provide the name of 
          driver of the vehicle at the time of the alleged violation.  

          There have been a number of complaints about courtesy notices, 
          namely that the form that is used appears to indicate that the 
          registered owner is legally required to provide the information 
          when in actuality, the registered owner of the vehicle is under 
          no such obligation to provide the information requested.  To 
          address this issue, the author has included an exact copy of the 
          courtesy notice in this bill and would require that a true and 
          exact copy of the form be used for red light camera violations.  
          The form includes a box entitled "none of the above" that a 
          registered owner of a vehicle receiving the courtesy notice can 
          check if he or she does not wish to divulge the identity of the 
          driver at the time of the alleged violation.  

          Red light camera vendors note that while the majority of red 
          light camera violations result in proper identification of the 
          driver at the time of the alleged violation, approximately 40% 
          of violations require the use of a courtesy notice or other 
          means of identifying the driver.  Vendors claim that if 
          registered owners are given the option not to identify the 
          driver at the time of the alleged violation, they expect that 
          nearly one-half of respondents will refuse to provide the 








                                                                  SB 1303
                                                                  Page  9

          information resulting in substantial loss of ticket revenue in 
          addition to costs for law enforcement to ascertain the identity 
          of the driver using other means.  Additionally, the California 
          Police Chiefs Association notes that including the option for 
          recipients to not name the driver of the vehicle would simply 
          encourage scofflaw behavior.  

           Recent Legislation  :  SB 29 (Simitian) of 2011, made 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.  That bill was vetoed by the Governor on the 
          grounds that the issues addressed in the bill should be overseen 
          by local elected officials  

          AB 1022 (Oropeza) Chapter 511, Statutes of 2003, added 
          conditions and restrictions to the use of automated traffic 
          enforcement systems.  

          SB 1136 (Kopp) Chapter 54, Statutes of 1998, repealed the 
          January 1, 1999, sunset date, and extended indefinitely 
          provisions that allow the use of automated traffic enforcement 
          systems at official traffic control signals.  

          SB 833 (Kopp) Chapter 922, Statutes of 1995, authorized a 
          three-year demonstration period to test the use and 
          effectiveness of automated traffic enforcement systems in 
          reducing the incidence of drivers running red lights at roadway 
          intersections.  

          SB 1216 (Rosenthal) Chapter 1216, Statutes of 1994, originally 
          authorized automated enforcement at rail crossings.   

          Double-referral  :  This bill has also been referred to the 
          Assembly Judiciary Committee.  
           
          REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION  :

           Support 
           
          None received
           
            Opposition 
           
          Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs








                                                                  SB 1303
                                                                  Page  10

          California Police Chiefs Association Inc.
          California Traffic Defense Bar Association
          California Walks
          City of Beverly Hills
          League of California Cities
          Los Angeles Protective League
          National Motorists Association
          North American Transportation Association Inc.
          Redflex Traffic Systems
          Riverside Sheriffs' Association
          Safer Streets L.A.
          1 Individual

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