Red-light camera tickets may be returning to a stop light near you with a reduced fine, and a likelihood that you pay no matter what if Assembly Bill 666 is approved in California.
AB 666 -- also known as the “Devil’s Bill” by the opposition -- was introduced by Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski in Sacramento early February, and would make the process of settling a red light camera ticket a civil process rather than criminal, meaning a driver wouldn’t have the right to a trial.
Last July, the red light camera ticket program through which tickets could get as high as $500 was shut down. Payment of the violations was already voluntary as of 2011.
With the new bill, a judge would not oversee the case, and the owner of the car would be responsible to pay the ticket regardless of whether the owner was driving or not.
“The problem is you don’t have the same right in an administrative hearing as you would in a court of law,” said Jay Beeber, an opponent of the bill and founder of the website www.StopAB666.com. “The ticket is the only evidence that has to be presented against you.”
Supporters of the bill, however, argued that the objective is not to punish drivers, but to stop motorists from running red lights.
“Last year in California, probably 600 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents,” said David Grant, of California Walks, an organization that advocates for safer walking communities. “Half those people would be alive today if we actually enforced the laws we’ve got.”
Less than 40 percent of red light camera photos result in citations, Grant said.
“The current system just doesn’t work,” Grant said.
Another issue the bill would change is the current “snitch” ticket. As current law stands, a notice, not a ticket, is sent out to the owner of the car if the camera could not determine if the owner was driving. The owner of the car can inform on the person driving or simply ignore the citation, making it more difficult to collect a fine.
AB666 would change this provision, and the owner would have to snitch or pay, making someone responsible regardless of who was driving.
“You can make the owner of the car responsible for anything that happens in their car no matter what,” Beeber said.
But supporters of the bill said the bill would make the red light camera ticket the same as a parking ticket. The owner of the car must pay, regardless if the owner -- or a friend -- parked the car illegally.
“But a parking ticket doesn’t result in a point on your record,” Beeber said.
Grant said that the problem is running red lights and committing “rolling stops.”
“Two thirds of pedestrians hit are people hit in crosswalks,” Grant said. “We want to cut the cost in half, increase the number of people who have to pay, and discourage people from running red lights.”
NBC4's Conan Nolan contributed to this report.