Skip to content

September 1, 2011

For More Information, Contact:
Melissa Figueroa (916) 651-4011 .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


SACRAMENTO – Legislation that protects the rights of drivers by regulating “red-light cameras” was approved by the Legislature on a bi-partisan vote, and now heads to Governor Jerry Brown for approval. Senate Bill 29, by State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), would establish statewide standards for the installation and operation of traffic enforcement cameras, and make it easier to challenge unjustified tickets.

“This bill is designed to make sure that people’s due process rights are protected as they work their way through the system,” said Simitian, “and to make sure that if somebody gets a ticket that they shouldn’t have, they have a way out of the system that’s relatively quick and convenient.”

The cameras increasingly are a subject of debate in cities around the state, as drivers question their accuracy, and courts question the validity of the photographic evidence. Simitian says he does not oppose red light cameras per se, but “they raise issues of accuracy, privacy and due process. I believe traffic tickets should only be issued to improve public safety, not to raise revenue.”

Senate Bill 29 protects drivers’ rights by:

• Prohibiting the use of red light cameras for the purpose of raising revenue;
• Requiring a demonstrated safety need;
• Requiring local jurisdictions to follow state standards in the placement and operation of cameras;
• Requiring adequate signage to notify drivers when red light cameras are in use;
• Prohibiting so-called “snitch tickets” (i.e., an innocent ticket recipient may not be required to identify another driver in order to clear an inaccurate/misdirected ticket); and,
• Making it easier for a wrongfully ticketed driver to get a ticket cleared.

The legislation is a reintroduction of a bill Simitian authored last year that originated in his annual “There Oughta Be a Law” contest. San Jose resident Vera Gil suggested the legislation after receiving multiple tickets from red light cameras for a car in Southern California she does not own and has never driven.

Based on the difficulty she experienced challenging the tickets, Gil proposed a law requiring improved policies and procedures for “red light camera” citations.

“People who get tickets for someone else’s car need a way to straighten things out,” said Gil. “In my case, the license plate was one letter different than mine. I understand how that mistake happens, but it took weeks and weeks to clear-up. There was no information on who to call. I think that the cameras are helpful, but a ticket can be a real thorn in the side of the person who receives it mistakenly.”

“Discussion of the legislation over the past two years,” Simitian said, “confirmed my initial suspicion that Ms. Gil’s case was just the tip of the iceberg.”  The issue comes up frequently when Simitian hears from constituents.

To learn more about SB 29, visit