By on August 27, 2010

The California state Senate on Wednesday voted 63-11 to give final approval to a measure that will cut the fine for the most common type of red light camera violation in half. Under existing law, motorists who make safe, rolling right-hand turns at monitored intersections may receive a $500 bill in the mail from a private company operating on behalf of a municipality. In the past few years, the “California stop” at some locations have begun to account for up to 98 percent of automated ticketing machine citations.

Assemblyman Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) introduced a brief, but complicated bill that he says will slash the fine for such turns from $500 to $250. It does so by reassigning turning violations to a code section carrying a $35 base fine as opposed to the current $100 base fine given to more serious violations. When state and county surcharges are added to the base amounts, the $35 fine becomes between $225 to $250 and the $100 fine between $450 and $500.

The League of California Cities strongly opposed the measure on monetary grounds, estimating that one-half of all tickets in the state go not for red light running but for turning right on red. The League called Hill’s fine reduction bill a “de facto prohibition” on camera use.

“With the same number of tickets being issued but with less revenue for operations, cities will simply decrease or eliminate red light camera operations,” League lobbyist Jennifer Whiting wrote in a letter to the Assembly Transportation Committee last week. “AB 909 would negatively affect cities’ ability to use automated traffic enforcement tools and potentially cost the state millions of dollars of lost revenue. It does not directly prohibit the use of red light cameras but the reduction of fees collected could make red light camera systems fiscally unfeasible. For these reasons, the League opposes this bill.”

Assemblyman Hill insisted that the rolling stop fine was never intended to be so high and that a drafting error in 1997 legislation placed rolling turns in the more expensive category. His change restores rolling right tickets to the same category as running a stop sign.

“This may be the most significant thing we can do for the people of California this year, given the budget situation,” Assembly Majority Leader Charles Calderon (D-Whittier) said in a statement.

As the Senate had passed the same bill 26 to 8 on August 12, the proposal will become law with the signature of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R). A copy of the bill is available in a 150k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: PDF File Assembly Bill 909 (California State Legislature, 8/25/2010)


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16 Comments on “California Legislature Votes to Cut Rolling Right Turn Fines...”

  • avatar

    Wow, California legislature passes a reasonable law! Who knew it was possible without a statewide initiative?

    • 0 avatar

      Reasonable would be not fining someone turning right at all unless the intersection is marked as such.

      From driving school I remember one should come to a complete stop before turning on red, but the camera probably isn’t able to check that and it just snapping anyone passing it within a certain time of the light changing.

    • 0 avatar

      The cameras are usually not triggered by a speed less than 8 to 15 miles per hour. So they do give some leeway. A full stop is not required.

  • avatar

    For interest sake, run a poll to see how many of your readers ignore red-light tickets.
    I ignored my first one last month in St. Louis and am waiting to see what will happen.

  • avatar

    One minor point: the California Senate can’t pass anything by 63-11 – the state Senate has only 40 members.

    The League of California Cities’ lobbyist has it exactly right, this is an attempt to make traffic cameras fiscally unfeasible rather than outlawed, and all I can say is Well Done.

    Outlawing the revenue cameras would prompt lawsuits from the cities, along with demands to replace the lost revenue, so making them unprofitable is the best way for the legislature to respond to public outrage over the fines and gross inaccuracies of the systems in place.

  • avatar

    Curiously, Hillsborough County, Florida allows right on red without a stop if you do not exceed 15 miles per hour.

  • avatar
    George B

    In my opinion a big part of the problem is intersection design and the law are out of sync with traffic reality. To safely turn right on red, the driver has to drive past the stop bar and into the crosswalk area so they can see cross traffic. Driver stops where they can see and then makes the right turn if it is safe to do so. Perfectly logical, but technically illegal. You’re supposed to stop before the stop bar and crosswalk to protect nonexistent pedestrians and stop again where you can see the traffic.

  • avatar

    …potentially cost the state millions of dollars…

    This kind of thing really gets me. It seems to be a major argument people use to oppose removing traffic cameras – but revenue shouldn’t have anything to do with it. Last time I checked, fines were there to keep people from flouting traffic law, not to raise money.

    So, which is it – are traffic laws there to ensure reasonably safe travel, or to raise money? I mean, if they’re just there to raise money, you might as well ticket people for driving at all; after all, not doing so costs the state millions of dollars… *rolls eyes*

    • 0 avatar

      Well said.

      Look at the numbers cited in this article. The fine for running a red light in California is set by statute at $100. But over the years the government has added “administrative surcharges” so that the ticket they send you is for over $400. Some of which goes to the courts that decide these cases!

      Don’t tell me this is about safety, not revenue. This is taxation, not law enforcement. No question.

    • 0 avatar


      Exactly. Read what these A..holes are talking about. Money, Revenue streams. I guess I have to give them credit for being honest. $cameras have nothing to do with safety. Its ALL about the money. But $250 for a right-on-red violation? All those surcharges? This is taxation, but here you get nothing back for the tax you give.

  • avatar

    CA is so broke that it’s squeezing everything it can, starting with its drivers.

    Check out the hike on reg fees for CA plates.

    Raise the property tax and get it over with already

  • avatar

    “Motorists who make safe, rolling right-hand turns at monitored intersections may receive a $500 bill in the mail.” I thought $500.00 bills were out of circulation, or maybe that should read ‘may recieve a bill for $500.00 in the mail.’

  • avatar

    I wish they’d issue refunds — I know they didn’t the money on lube while reaming me.

  • avatar

    The British has a history of setting burning tire to destroy those cameras. It always puzzled me why American doesn’t take physical action against red light camera considering this is one of the most heavily armed country on earth. Maybe, we are just more civilized.

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