BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    





          SENATE COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS
                             Senator Ricardo Lara, Chair
                            2015 - 2016  Regular  Session

          SB 681 (Hill) - Vehicles:  right turn violations
          
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          |Version: January 5, 2016        |Policy Vote: T. & H. 10 - 0     |
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          |Urgency: No                     |Mandate: No                     |
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          |Hearing Date: January 19, 2016  |Consultant: Mark McKenzie       |
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          This bill meets the criteria for referral to the Suspense File.







          Bill  
          Summary:  SB 681 would reduce the base fine from $100 to $35 for  
          turning right on a red light, or turning left from a one-way  
          street onto another one-way street, without coming to a complete  
          stop.


          Fiscal  
          Impact:  Unknown, significant loss of state and local penalty  
          assessment revenues.  As noted in the Background section below,  
          many of the penalty assessments, fines, and fees added onto the  








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          base fine for convictions of traffic infractions are dependent  
          upon the amount of the base fine.  Reducing the base fine for  
          failure to stop before turning right on a red light, or turning  
          left from a one-way street onto another one-way street, would  
          result in the following reductions in fine and fee revenues for  
          each conviction: 
           State Penalty Assessment: reduction of $60 per conviction.  
            (State Penalty Fund, distributed to nine other Special Funds,  
            and county General Fund)
           County Penalty Assessment: reduction of $42 per conviction.  
            (various Special Funds)
           Court Construction Penalty Assessment: reduction of $30 per  
            conviction. (various Special Funds supporting court  
            facilities)
           Proposition 69 DNA Penalty Assessment: reduction of $6 per  
            conviction. (primarily state or local DNA Identification Fund)
           DNA Identification Fund Penalty Assessment: reduction of $24  
            per conviction. (primarily state DNA Identification Fund)
           Emergency Medical Services Penalty Assessment: reduction of  
            $12 per conviction. (primarily Maddy EMS Fund)
           State Surcharge: reduction of $13 per conviction (state  
            General Fund)

          The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has conviction data  
          indicating that over 300,000 annual red light violations were  
          reported to them for assessment of a violation point in recent  
          years (356,000 in 2015 and 305,000 in 2014).  Staff notes,  
          however, that there is no reliable statewide data on the number  
          of red light violations that are a result of a driver turning  
          right on a red light.  For every 10,000 violations subject to a  
          reduced base fine, there would be a total reduction of $1.74  
          million in state and local penalty assessment revenues. (General  
          Fund, various Special Funds, and local funds)


          Background:  Existing law requires a driver to stop at an intersection when  
          faced with a steady red light or red arrow, and to remain  
          stopped until an indication to proceed is shown.  Except where a  
          sign is in place prohibiting a turn, a driver facing a red light  
          who has come to a complete stop may turn right or turn left from  
          a one-way street onto another one-way street.  A driver making  
          such a turn must yield right-of-way to pedestrians in an  
          adjacent crosswalk and to vehicles approaching until the driver  
          can proceed with reasonable safety.  Failure to stop at a red  
          light is an infraction punishable by a base fine of $100.   







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          Failure to yield right-of-way to pedestrians or approaching  
          vehicles when making a turn after coming to a complete stop is  
          an infraction punishable by a base fine of $35.
          In addition to base fines for traffic violations, existing law  
          imposes numerous additional penalty assessments, fees, and  
          surcharges for convictions of these infractions, which  
          significantly increases the total bail owed as a result of  
          violations.  For example, the total bail on a violation with a  
          base fine of $35 is $238, and the total bail on a violation with  
          a base fine of $100 is $490 (not including fees associated with  
          traffic violator schools).  Existing law specifies a complex  
          process for the distribution of fine and fee revenues to  
          numerous state and local funds.  Some of these add-on fines and  
          fees were enacted to fund specific activities, such as emergency  
          medical services or DNA-related activities, while others support  
          general court operations, court facilities construction, or  
          state and local general funds. 


          The following assessments and fees are a flat charge per  
          conviction:  a $4 Emergency Medical Air Transportation Penalty  
          Assessment; a $40 Court Operations Assessment; A $30 Conviction  
          Assessment Fee; and a $1 Night Court Fee.  The following  
          charges, however, are dependent upon the base fine:


          - State Penalty Assessment: $10 for every $10 of a base fine*
          - County Penalty Assessment: $7 for every $10 of a base fine*
          - Court Construction Penalty Assessment: $5 for every $10 of a  
          base fine*
          - Proposition 69 DNA Penalty Assessment: $1 for every $10 of a  
          base fine*
          - DNA Identification Fund Penalty Assessment: $4 for every $10  
          of a base fine*
          - Emergency Medical Services Penalty Assessment: $2 for every  
          $10 of a base fine*
          - State Surcharge: 20% of a base fine
          (* the base fines are rounded up to the next $10 increment for  
          purposes of calculating the assessment)


          Proposed Law:  
            SB 681 would specify that failure to come to a complete stop  
          at an intersection when facing a steady red light prior to  
          turning right, or turning left from a one-way street onto  







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          another one-way street, is an infraction punishable by a base  
          fine of $35.


          Related  
          Legislation:  AB 1191 (Shelley), Chap 852/1997, increased the  
          base fine for red light signal violations to $100.
          AB 909 (Hill), which was vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger in  
          2010, would have reduced the base fine from $100 to $35 for  
          turning right on a red light, or turning left from a one-way  
          street onto another one-way street, without coming to a complete  
          stop.  The veto message included the following:


               A driver running a red-light, whether they are traveling  
               straight, or turning right, makes a very dangerous traffic  
               movement that endangers the nearby motoring public,  
               bicyclists, and pedestrians. 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. 




          Staff  
          Comments:  This bill would decrease the base fine for what many  
          consider to be a less dangerous form of red light violation than  
          running straight through an intersection or turning left on red.  
           The author contends that previous legislation that increased  
          the base fine for a red light violation to $100 was intended to  
          target straight through and left turn on red violations since  
          they are the most dangerous violations at intersections, but  
          that the measure inadvertently made right turn violations  
          subject to the same increased base fine.  By reducing the base  
          fine for rolling right turns, this bill is intended to ensure  
          the penalty matches the severity of the offense.  
          The DMV reports the following conviction data on the number of  
          red light violations that were reported to them for assessment  
          of a violation point:  356,376 total convictions in 2014, and  
          304,970 total convictions in 2015.  Staff notes that there is no  
          reliable statewide data on the number of red light violations  
          that are a result of a driver turning right on a red light.  The  







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          author has provided data from cities where red light enforcement  
          cameras have been installed that indicates an average of 40% of  
          tickets issued for red light violations are a result of drivers  
          failing to stop before turning right on red (nearly 97,000 out  
          of a total of approximately 243,000 citations issued through red  
          light cameras in 2014).  It is unclear that this percentage  
          would be applicable statewide due to variations in enforcement  
          across jurisdictions, but it appears safe to assume that the  
          reduced base fines in this bill would apply to citations  
          numbering in the tens of thousands in a given year.


           Bill history:   Staff notes that this bill was originally  
          introduced as a measure to address problems related to "patent  
          trolls," which was approved by this Committee last May.  The  
          measure was subsequently amended on the Senate Floor to instead  
          address a corporation tax issue by denying a business expense  
          deduction for a fine imposed on the Pacific Gas and Electric  
          Company by the California Public Utilities Commission.  That  
          version of the bill was eventually reported out of this  
          Committee pursuant to Senate Rule 28.8.  SB 681 was subsequently  
          amended on January 5, 2016 to remove those provisions and insert  
          the current language proposing to reduce the base fine for  
          "rolling" turns on a red light.




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