BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



          SENATE COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORTATION AND HOUSING
                              Senator Jim Beall, Chair
                                2015 - 2016  Regular 

          Bill No:          SB 681            Hearing Date:     1/12/16
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          |Author:   |Hill                                                  |
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          |Version:  |1/5/2016                                              |
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          |Urgency:  |No                     |Fiscal:      |No              |
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          |Consultant|Erin Riches                                           |
          |:         |                                                      |
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          SUBJECT:  Vehicles: right turn violations


            DIGEST:  This bill reduces the base fine for "rolling right  
          turn" violations.

          ANALYSIS:
          
          Existing law requires a driver to stop at a red light and  
          prohibits the driver from proceeding until given an indication  
          to do so.  Failing to stop at a red light is a violation  
          carrying a base fine of $100, as well as a violation point.

          Unless there is a sign prohibiting it, a driver may turn right  
          at a red light after coming to a complete stop.  A driver may  
          also turn left from a one-way street onto another one-way  
          street, after coming to a complete stop, during a red light.   
          Stopping but then proceeding to make an unsafe turn - for  
          example, by failing to yield to a pedestrian in the crosswalk -  
          carries a $35 base fine and a violation point.  

          The state Judicial Council annually adopts a uniform traffic  
          penalty schedule for all non-parking infractions outlined in the  
          Vehicle Code.  Existing law establishes the base fine for  
          red-light violations at $100; due to additional surcharges,  
          penalties, and assessments, a $100 base fine is equivalent to a  
          total of $541.  

          This bill provides that turning right on a red light, or turning  
          left from a one-way street onto another one-way street, without  







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          first coming to a complete stop, is a violation carrying a base  
          fine of $35.
          
          COMMENTS:

          1)Purpose.  According to the author, the 1997 legislation  
            increasing the base fine for red light violations from $35 to  
            $100 (see "Related Legislation" below) was targeted at  
            straight-through and left-turn violations, which are the most  
            dangerous violations at intersections.  This issue has gained  
            increased attention over the years with the proliferation of  
            red-light cameras.  In addition, red-light ticket fines have  
            increased dramatically; in 1997, the total price of a  
            red-light violation was around $100, while now it exceeds  
            $500.  The author states that this amount is excessive for a  
            "rolling right turn" on red, a maneuver that is not overtly  
            dangerous.  This bill would reduce the base fine to $35, for a  
            total of $289.

          2)The author cites Judicial Council data indicating that in many  
            municipalities, the majority of red-light violation tickets  
            are issued for right-turn violations.  Additionally, a 2008  
            Los Angeles Times study revealed that 80% of red-light camera  
            tickets are issued not to drivers running straight through  
            intersections, but to drivers making rolling right turns.   
            People making right turns are generally going at a low speed,  
            and resulting accidents tend to be much less serious in  
            nature.  By reducing the base fine for rolling right turns,  
            this bill helps ensure the penalty matches the offense.  

          3)Violation points.  DMV assigns violation points against an  
            individual's driver's license for certain traffic offenses to  
            identify a driver as a negligent operator.  Violation points  
            vary with the gravity of the offense; for example, a "fix-it"  
            ticket does not count for any violation points, a speeding  
            ticket counts for one violation point, and driving while under  
            the influence of alcohol or drugs counts for two violation  
            points.  DMV may suspend an individual's driver's license for  
            six months if he or she receives four points in one year, six  
            points in two years, or eight points in three years.  An  
            individual may request a DMV hearing to avoid a license  
            suspension.  Existing law assigns one violation point to  
            red-light offenses; this bill would not change that provision.

          4)What about pedestrian safety?  Existing law requires a driver  








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            to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk or intersection.   
            Existing law also requires a driver to come to a complete stop  
            before making a turn on a red light.  While this bill reduces  
            the fine for a rolling right turn, it does not make a rolling  
            right turn legal, nor does it affect the pedestrian  
            right-of-way statute.   

          5)One more try.  The author carried a nearly identical bill to  
            this bill in 2010 (see "Related Legislation" below), which was  
            vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger.  The veto message stated  
            that "Modifying existing law to make red-light violations from  
            a right turn less egregious sends the wrong message to the  
            public that California is tolerant of these types of offenses.  
             It is our responsibility to protect the motoring public and  
            not increase the risk of traffic collisions."  The author  
            states that rolling right turns are far less serious than  
            straight-through violations and therefore should carry lesser  
            penalties. 

          6)Gut-and-amend.  This bill originally pertained to tax  
            deductions for gas corporations.  It was amended on January 5  
            to relate to red-light violations.

          7)Double referral.  This bill has also been referred to the  
            Appropriations Committee, should this committee pass it today.
           
          Related Legislation:
          
          AB 1191 (Shelley, Chapter 852, Statutes of 1997) - increased the  
          base fine for red-light signal violations from $35 to $100.  

          AB 909 (Hill) -vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger in 2010; would  
          have reduced the base fine for "rolling right turn" violations  
          back to $35.  

          FISCAL EFFECT:  Appropriation:  No    Fiscal Com.:  No    Local:  
           Yes


            POSITIONS:  (Communicated to the committee before noon on  
          Wednesday,
                          January 6, 2016.)
          
            SUPPORT:  









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          AAA Northern California, Nevada, and Utah
          Automobile Club of Southern California
          National Motorists Association
          Safer Streets L.A.
          1 individual

          OPPOSITION:

          None received

          
          

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