BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    






           SENATE TRANSPORTATION & HOUSING COMMITTEE       BILL NO: AB 1047
          SENATOR MARK DESAULNIER, CHAIRMAN              AUTHOR:  jeffries
                                                         VERSION: 
          1/12/2012
          Analysis by:  Eric Thronson                    FISCAL:  NO
          Hearing date:  May 8, 2012



          SUBJECT:

          Motorcycle-only checkpoints

          DESCRIPTION:

          This bill prohibits state and local law enforcement agencies 
          that receive federal motorcycle safety grant funds from using 
          the money to implement motorcycle-only checkpoints.

          ANALYSIS:

          Existing law authorizes a local jurisdiction, by ordinance and 
          only on highways under its jurisdiction, to establish vehicle 
          inspection checkpoints to look for air emissions violations or 
          sobriety checkpoints to identify drivers who are under the 
          influence of drugs or alcohol.  Drivers of motor vehicles must 
          stop and submit to an inspection at a checkpoint when signs are 
          displayed requiring a stop.  

          In its effort to reduce negative outcomes associated with motor 
          vehicle crashes, the National Highway Traffic Safety 
          Administration (NHTSA) administers traffic safety grants to 
          state and local governments to conduct local highway safety 
          programs.  Among the grant funding NHTSA provides are funds to 
          states through the Motorcyclist Safety Grant program.  Federal 
          law provides that these motorcycle safety funds are available 
          only for two purposes: 
                 motorcyclist safety training
                 motorcyclist awareness programs.

           This bill  prohibits state and local law enforcement agencies 
          that receive NHTSA motorcycle safety grant funds from using the 
          money to implement motorcycle-only checkpoints.
          
          COMMENTS:





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           1.Purpose  .  This bill prohibits law enforcement from using 
            motorcycle program grant funds to conduct motorcycle-only 
            safety checkpoints.  The author introduced this bill in 
            response to other states setting up roadside checkpoints and 
            stopping and citing only motorcyclists.  These efforts have 
            resulted in motorcyclists feeling singled out and profiled for 
            stops by police.  In addition, NHTSA and the California Office 
            of Traffic Safety (OTS) issue federal grant funds to the 
            California Highway Patrol (CHP) and local law enforcement 
            agencies to conduct "motorcycle safety programs."  The author 
            contends that it is important to prohibit these funds from 
            being used to conduct motorcycle-only checkpoints.

           2.NHTSA motorcycle safety grants cannot be used for checkpoints  . 
             Federal law does not allow motorcycle safety grant funds to 
            be used for motorcycle-only checkpoints.  OTS indicates the 
            federal grant funding it distributes is available only for 
            improving rider training programs or promoting motorcycle 
            awareness through public service announcements.  

            In recent years, Georgia conducted motorcycle safety 
            checkpoints funded in part through a NHTSA Motorcycle Law 
            Enforcement Demonstration program, not with motorcyclist 
            safety grant funds.  This demonstration program was designed 
            to address safety equipment concerns, such as tire condition 
            and motorcycle modifications, as well as critical behavior 
            issues including alcohol impairment and proper helmet use.  
            According to a letter responding to concerns raised by the 
            American Motorcyclist Association, NHTSA indicates that 
            motorcycle-only safety checkpoints may be very important to 
            reducing motorcycle fatalities.  To further life-saving 
            efforts, NHTSA claims, strategies need to go beyond rider 
            training and motorist awareness programs.  NHTSA believes that 
            through a focus on both crash prevention strategies, such as 
            rider impairment, and crash protection through encouragement 
            of law-compliant helmets, this program promises to have a 
            significant impact on motorcycle safety.  

            While NHTSA may, in the future, make some other grant funding 
            available for motorcycle-only checkpoints, federal law does 
            not currently permit state or local law enforcement agencies 
            to use motorcycle safety grant funding for motorcycle-only 
            checkpoints.  Therefore, the only thing this bill accomplishes 
            is codifying in state law a prohibition of activity that is 
            already not allowable under federal law.  The committee may 
            wish to ask the author why it is necessary to include a 




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            prohibition in state law of an activity already not allowed in 
            federal law.
            
           3.California law enforcement does not conduct motorcycle safety 
            checkpoints  .  The author claims this bill is important to 
            protect Californian motorcyclists' rights.  According to the 
            CHP, however, neither it nor any local law enforcement agency 
            conduct motorcycle-only checkpoints.  The author cites an 
            example of a motorcycle-only checkpoint that occurred in 
            Citrus Heights, California; however, in this instance the 
            local law enforcement agency was conducting a targeted 
            enforcement effort rather than a motorcycle-only checkpoint.  


            Targeted enforcement efforts and checkpoints are often 
            confused.  The distinguishing feature of a checkpoint is that 
            drivers are required to pull over and stop in a designated 
            area when requested to do so by law enforcement personnel.  
            Once a driver has pulled into the designated area, he or she 
            is required to submit to an inspection conducted by a law 
            enforcement officer.  Drivers are notified that the checkpoint 
            is in place by posted signs that require drivers to pull over 
            and stop.  Drivers who fail to stop may be cited.  



            Targeted enforcement programs, on the other hand, call for the 
            deployment of additional law enforcement officers in a given 
            area to look for and cite drivers for specific violations.  
            One common example of a targeted enforcement effort is the 
            recent "Click It or Ticket" campaign to increase compliance 
            with seatbelt laws.  An example of a targeted enforcement 
            effort involving motorcyclists was CHP's enforcement campaign 
            to increase patrols on a 33-mile stretch of State Route 74 
            near Temecula focused on traffic violations made by 
            motorcyclists.  In addition to increased enforcement, targeted 
            enforcement programs can also include public awareness media 
            efforts designed to reduce the overall incidence of specific 
            violations.  

           4.Are motorcycle-only checkpoints fair  ? Proponents for the bill 
            argue that it is unfair to single out motorcycles for safety 
            inspections.  If CHP were to conduct other safety checkpoints 
            to look for proper seat belt and child restraint use, these 
            would effectively single out automobiles.  In such 
            checkpoints, CHP would wave motorcyclists through because 




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            motorcycles have no seat belt requirements.  If the CHP 
            conducts a helmet checkpoint, it stands to reason the officers 
            would wave through automobile drivers because they are not 
            required to wear helmets.  It is unclear why one checkpoint or 
            the other would be considered more or less fair to the drivers 
            being stopped.

            In fact, several motorcycle riders that were stopped at the 
            motorcycle-only checkpoints in New York sued the state in 
            2009, claiming that the main purpose of the checkpoints was to 
            look for criminals and that the practice was intrusive and 
            unfair to riders (Wagner et al. v. The County of Schenectady, 
            NY et al.).  A federal judge dismissed the case in November 
            2011, rejecting the motorcyclists' claims that the New York 
            State Police violated their constitutional rights and 
            concluding that the checkpoints were enacted to promote 
            motorcycle safety and were effective in addressing this 
            interest.  

           5.Other states and legislation  . To date, only New York, Georgia, 
            and Virginia have conducted motorcycle-only checkpoints.  In 
            response to their growing use, motorcycle advocacy groups are 
            urging lawmakers across the country to ban these checkpoints.  
            New Hampshire and North Carolina have passed laws banning the 
            use of NHTSA grant funds for motorcycle-only checkpoints.  In 
            addition, Virginia has passed a law which prohibits 
            motorcycle-only checkpoints regardless of funding source.  At 
            the federal level, Wisconsin Congressmen Jim Sensenbrenner, 
            Tom Petri, Paul Ryan, and Sean Duffy have introduced H.R. 904 
            that, if enacted, would prohibit the U.S. Secretary of 
            Transportation from providing funds to state and local 
            governments for the creation of motorcycle-only checkpoints.  
          
          POSITIONS:  (Communicated to the committee before noon on 
                     Wednesday,                             May 2, 2012)

               SUPPORT:  ABATE of California (sponsor)
                         Thunder Roads Magazine - Northern California
                         Sacramento Outrider Motorcycle Association
                         American Motorcyclist Association
                         Over 200 individuals
          
               OPPOSED:  None received. 







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