In an incredible move set to destroy due process rights of California motorists, a political hack from California has introduced the appropriately named AB 666, which stacks the deck in favor of red-light camera companies and eviscerates the rights of motorists who want to fight the tickets. Bob Wieckowski, a lawyer and state politician mis-representing California's 25th Assembly district, introduced the insidious bill last month. The bill is not yet a done deal and was referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee on March 20th. Wieckowski, a Democrat first elected to office in November 2010, has received large campaign donations from red light camera companies. Redflex, one of the most notorious and unethical of red-light scamera companies, donated $2000to Wieckowski on 8/2/2012. His website bobwieckowski.com states "we need new leaders in Sacramento," but anyone reading the text of AB 666 would realize that Wieckowski is one of the politicians that need replacing.
StopAB666.org gives an easy-to-understand analysis of the bill and is leading the opposition to it. It is a project of Jay Beeber, a long-time activist who's been described described as a "Folk hero"and a "libertarian at heart" who singlehandedly helped take down red light cameras in Los Angeles. Beeber, a filmmaker, was interviewed by reason.tv in 2011 regarding his opposition to the cams. Beeber's website SaferStreetsLA.org bears the tagline "stop red light camera rip-offs."
The excellent website HighwayRobbery.net, another longtime leader in opposing the cams, sent out an e-mail alert noting "AB 666 is an Industry bill, to make it even harder to fight a camera ticket, and needs our strong opposition," referring readers to Beeber's new website.
StopAB666.org explains why the new proposed law is so horrible and offers a strategy to defeat it: [excerpts]
"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.
"...AB666 makes the vehicle owner responsible for violations committed by someone else unless you can prove who was driving the vehicle...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. 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.
"...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.