Stop AB666 – The Devil’s Bill
Protect Your Right to a Trial for Traffic Tickets
See the full text of this insidious bill here.
What does AB666 Do?
AB666 (Wieckowski) rewrites the statutory scheme regarding the prosecution of red light camera tickets. Essentially, it would require that these tickets be prosecuted through an administrative hearing (although a point would still accrue to the driver’s license) conducted by the jurisdiction running the camera program rather than through an independent traffic court. This will eliminate many of the protections afforded to the accused which they would normally be entitled to in Superior Court.
But that’s not all, AB666 makes the vehicle owner responsible for violations committed by someone else unless you can prove who was driving the vehicle. Think about that. It’s like making you responsible if someone driving your car gets a speeding ticket, or runs a stop sign, or makes an illegal U-turn (which could happen once they get this into law). You will no longer have the defense that you weren’t the driver. And there’s no requirement that the pictures they capture have to be clear enough to help you identify who was driving even if you want to identify them. They can send you a citation with a blurry picture and then you are responsible for finding out who was driving. If you can’t, YOU have to pay the fine. And if you don’t, they will put a hold on your registration until you pay up. Not bad enough? The hold on your registration gets applied as soon as they mail you the ticket, not after you are found guilty.
It get’s worse. The tickets are considered Prima Facie evidence against you. What does that mean? It means that what you are accused of is considered true, “on its face”, and you have to prove that it is not true. No other evidence has to be submitted against you. No proof that they complied with the law in setting up the camera program, no proof that the system was working properly, no proof that the yellow light was at the minimum requirement. No other proof at all. You are responsible for proving otherwise. But in the administrative hearings you will have no right to face your accuser and no right to discovery of any evidence, even evidence that would exonerate you.
And they only have to decide if you are guilty based on a “preponderance of the evidence”, meaning it’s more likely than not. Currently in traffic court, the state has to prove their case “beyond a reasonable doubt”, which is a much higher standard and provides you greater protection.
So who will be hearing your case? Someone the city hires. They don’t have to be a judge or have any real knowledge of the law. In fact, they can even be a former cop, former politician, even a former employee of the red light camera company. They only have to take 20 hours of training given by the city. Training in how best to find you guilty. Will they be “independent’? How can they be? How long do you think they will keep their job if they find even a small fraction of people not guilty?
If you lose your administrative hearing (which you most certainly will) you can still go to court to have your case heard by a real judge. Think that protects you? Think again. First, you will have to pay an additional fee to go to court. Then once you are there, the only thing the judge is allowed to decide is if the city conducted your administrative hearing “fairly”, meaning did they follow their own rules. The ones they made up. You will still not have even the small protections you currently have in traffic court. And the standard of proof will still be “preponderance of the evidence”, not “beyond a reasonable doubt”.
And on top of all that, AB666 expands the use of photo enforcement to other traffic violations such as turning violations. This means more photo enforcement tickets for more offenses. And you can bet that when the money starts rolling in they will want to include more types of traffic offenses by putting in speed cameras, school bus cameras and stop sign cameras.
This is why AB666 is truly “The Devil’s Bill”.
So how can Bob Wieckowski, who’s taken large campaign contributions from the red light camera companies justify sponsoring this horrendous anti-citizen bill? He says it’s because the courts are being overburdened by red light camera tickets. He thinks that it’s just too difficult to take your money so he wants to change the rules to make sure you have no possibility of escaping from this scam. Think it’s not about money? When we explained to his legislative aid that the best way to stop burdening the courts is to extend the yellow lights to ensure less inadvertent red light violations, she responded they couldn’t do that because “it would cut down on the revenue collected by the State”. That’s an exact quote.
The other thing that Wieckowski is claiming is that the bill is a benefit to motorists because it cuts the fine in half. But that’s totally misleading because only the base fine is cut, not all the added on penalties and fees, which is where the real money is generated. For example, the current red light base fine is $100. But with all the added fees, the total fine is really almost $500. If the base fine is cut in half to $50, then the total fine will still be about $300. Are you willing to give up all you rights so they can rip you off for only $300 rather than $500? But here’s the kicker – remember when the staff member told me they couldn’t reduce revenue? She really meant it. She said the bill would be “revenue neutral”. The only way that can happen if you reduce the fine is if you know that more people will be forced to pay up or more tickets will be given out. You can bet they are anticipating that both will happen once AB666 is implemented. So the bill won’t really be revenue neutral, it will be a revenue windfall for the cities that use the cameras and the State that takes its cut of the scam. And that windfall will come out of your pocket. Think about how many people are currently getting caught up in this scam. That number will skyrocket as cities rush to put in these systems, both for red light violations and the expanded photo enforcement violations permitted under AB666.
You can bet the Camera Companies such as Redflex and ATS are salivating at this possibility. Why else would they have helped to write this bill and hired a consulting firm to help get it passed. Why else are they spending tens of thousands of dollars, perhaps even hundreds of thousands of dollars on lobbyists in Sacramento to ensure your rights are taken away.
And when they tell you this is all about safety, remember this – 95% or more of the violations given out by red light cameras are for violations that almost never cause accidents. They’re slow rolling right turns and unintentional fraction of a second into red violations that can’t result in collisions if there’s a proper all-red phase and which can be virtually eliminated by a small adjustment in the yellow light time. But they refuse to make these changes because “it would cut down on the revenue”. You see, they really want you to run red lights, because then they can penalize you and take your money.
If we don’t stop this now, we will all be paying the price for years to come. If the people had stood up and said NO when they approved red light cameras, if the people had stood up and said NO when they started ticketing mostly for rolling right turns, we wouldn’t be where we are now.
Take action today. Go to the home page and sign the petition. Then call Bob Wieckowski’s office and tell him to “Stop Selling the People Out to Red Light Camera Companies”. And if you can, please make a small donation to help the cause. Even a dollar or two will help. We’re not funded with millions of dollars stolen from citizens like the Red Light Camera companies are. If you can’t donate, we understand, but please sign the petition and make that phone call. Your friends, family and neighbors are counting on you. And please tell everyone you know about this. Share it on Facebook and send an email to whoever you can. Together we can beat this assault on the people.