A bill authored by Sen. Joe Simitian that would add restrictions to red-light cameras cruised through the state Senate Monday en route to Gov. Jerry Brown's desk.
The Senate voted 34-0 to support Senate Bill 1303, which originated from Simitian's "There Oughta be a Law" contest. Simitian, D-Palo Alto, said the bill will "protect the rights of drivers by regulating red-light cameras." It specifically prohibits red-light cameras to be used for raising revenues, requires that locations for these cameras be selected solely based on safety considerations and make it easier for drivers who erroneously received a ticket based on a red-light camera to get out of the ticket.
The bill also prohibits "snitch tickets" in which an innocent driver who erroneously received a ticket is forced to identify another driver to get the ticket cleared. Simitian said in a statement that while he doesn't oppose red-light cameras, he believes they should only be used to improve safety, not raise revenue.
"By making some of these key changes, I believe we can help restore public confidence in the purpose and fairness of red-light cameras," Simitian said.
The bill, he said, is designed to "establish some ground rules around the use of red-light cameras, and make sure that drivers' rights are protected."
"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," he said.
The bill also specifies that evidence from a red-light camera is not "hearsay" and can be used as evidence in a court of law.
While the bill had no trouble clearing the Senate, it still faces one major obstacle before it becomes law of the land. Brown last year vetoed Simitian's earlier proposal to add regulations to red-light cameras, arguing that it should be up to local officials to oversee the cameras. The earlier bill also cleared the Senate with no dissent.
The proposal to strengthen regulations of red-light cameras came from San Jose resident Vera Gil, who received numerous tickets from red-light cameras for a Southern California car that she doesn't own and has never driven, according to Simitian.