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New Bill Restricts Cities Use of Red Light Cameras

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By San Diego 6 News Reporters

SACRAMENTO - The state Senate has approved restrictions on governments' use of traffic cameras to catch drivers who run red lights.

In front of a local coffee shop in Sorrento Valley, some San Diegans applaud the legislation, they say often these cameras have them seeing red.

"They don't seem to be accurate," said Craig Brewster.

"I see it as a way to fill the coffers of the city and whoever's providing the camera," said Steven Schafer.

The bill by Sen. Joseph Simitian, a Democrat from Palo Alto, requires that red-light cameras be used for public safety, not to generate revenue from traffic fines.

It also requires local governments to post warning signs within 200 feet of an intersection with cameras. SB1303 also requires the governments and private companies providing the cameras to file an annual report with the state, detailing what kind of violations were captured by the cameras.

"I'd have to say I'm in court just about every day fighting red-light tickets," Matthew Speredelozzi is an attorney with SD Ticket King.

Speredelozzi says the new legislation would give certain rights back to drivers.

"Just putting notices at the major entrances to the city just isn't good enough, doesn't give the public enough notice," said Speredelozzi. "Warning people earlier would be more fair.

He also says the fact the new bill would require detailing of violations caught by the cameras would work in favor of drivers.

"How many people are actually falsely accused of running a red light?" said Speredelozzi. "It's actually quite often."

As far as regulating municipalities on their use of red-light cameras, Speredelozzi remains skeptical.

"How are they going to figure out what the municipality was thinking at the time they decided to install a photo red light system," questioned Speredelozzi.

Back at the local coffee shop, some drivers see a bigger picture with the new legislation.

"If people know there's a possibility of being caught, they might stop and slow down," said Deanna Mayer. "They may not be so selfish to try and get through the light.

The Senate passed the measure unanimously Thursday and now it must move on to the Assembly.

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