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4/17/2007
California Legislators to Consider Embracing Speed Traps
The California state Senate considers legislation to repeal prohibition against radar speed traps.

Ellen CorbettA powerful member of the California state Senate yesterday re-introduced legislation that would effectively repeal an existing law prohibiting the use of speed traps. The California State Sheriffs' Association wants the power to use radar and laser speed guns on roads with posted speed limits lower than deemed safe by accepted traffic engineering standards. State Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Ellen Corbett (D-San Leandro) introduced the legislation on their behalf.

Current law allows underposted speed limits but prohibits the use of radar for ticketing on such roads. Early versions of Corbett's measure simply repealed the prohibition. The latest bill maintains the appearance of fairness by accepting the issuance of speeding tickets where speed limits are set too low only if a police officer claims the speed was "unreasonable." The result of the change would still be increased statewide revenue from citations.

"This bill would increase the number of speeding cases subject to prosecution," the California Legislative Counsel's bill summary explains.

A Senate Transportation and Housing Committee hearing on the bill is scheduled for April 24.

Article Excerpt:
California State Legislature
BILL NUMBER: SB 848

INTRODUCED BY Senator Corbett on FEBRUARY 23, 2007
AMENDED IN SENATE MARCH 26, 2007
AMENDED IN SENATE APRIL 16, 2007

An act to amend Section 40802 of the Vehicle Code, relating to vehicles.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

SECTION 1. Section 40802 of the Vehicle Code is amended to read:
40802. (a) A "speed trap" is either of the following:
(1) A particular section of a highway measured as to distance and with boundaries marked, designated, or otherwise determined in order that the speed of a vehicle may be calculated by securing the time it takes the vehicle to travel the known distance.
(2) (A) A particular section of a highway with a prima facie speed limit that is provided by this code or by local ordinance under subparagraph (A) of paragraph (2) of subdivision (a) of Section 22352, or established under Section 22354, 22357, 22358, or 22358.3, if that prima facie speed limit is not justified by an engineering and traffic survey conducted within five years prior to the date of the alleged violation, and enforcement of the speed limit involves the use of radar or any other electronic device that measures the speed of moving objects.

(B) Subparagraph (A) does not apply to either of the following:
(i) A local street, road, or school zone.

(ii) When an arresting officer is able to demonstrate that the driver's speed exceeded the prima facie speed limit by at least 15 miles per hour and that speed is greater than is reasonable and prudent having due regard for weather, visibility, the traffic on, and the surface and width of, the highway, or at a speed that endangers the safety of persons or property.

(b) (1) For purposes of this section, a local street or road is defined by the latest functional usage and federal-aid system maps submitted to the federal Highway Administration, except that when these maps have not been submitted, or when the street or road is not shown on the maps, a "local street or road" means a street or road that primarily provides access to abutting residential property and meets the following three conditions:

(A) Roadway width of not more than 40 feet.
(B) Not more than one-half of a mile of uninterrupted length.
Interruptions shall include official traffic control signals as defined in Section 445.
(C) Not more than one traffic lane in each direction.
(2) For purposes of this section "school zone" means that area approaching or passing a school building or the grounds thereof that is contiguous to a highway and on which is posted a standard "SCHOOL" warning sign, while children are going to or leaving the school either during school hours or during the noon recess period. "School zone" also includes the area approaching or passing any school grounds that are not separated from the highway by a fence, gate, or other physical barrier while the grounds are in use by children if that highway is posted with a standard "SCHOOL" warning sign.

(c) (1) When all of the following criteria are met, paragraph (2) of this subdivision shall be applicable and subdivision (a) shall not be applicable:

(A) When radar is used, the arresting officer has successfully completed a radar operator course of not less than 24 hours on the use of police traffic radar, and the course was approved and certified by the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training.

(B) When laser or any other electronic device is used to measure the speed of moving objects, the arresting officer has successfully completed the training required in subparagraph (A) and an additional training course of not less than two hours approved and certified by the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training.

(C) (i) The prosecution proved that the arresting officer complied with subparagraphs (A) and (B) and that an engineering and traffic survey has been conducted in accordance with subparagraph (B) of paragraph (2). The prosecution proved that, prior to the officer issuing the notice to appear, the arresting officer established that the radar, laser, or other electronic device conformed to the requirements of subparagraph (D).

(ii) The prosecution proved the speed of the accused was unsafe for the conditions present at the time of alleged violation unless the citation was for a violation of Section 22349, 22356, or 22406.

(D) The radar, laser, or other electronic device used to measure the speed of the accused meets or exceeds the minimal operational standards of the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration, and has been calibrated within the three years prior to the date of the alleged violation by an independent certified laser or radar repair and testing or calibration facility.

(2) A "speed trap" is either of the following:
(A) A particular section of a highway measured as to distance and with boundaries marked, designated, or otherwise determined in order that the speed of a vehicle may be calculated by securing the time it takes the vehicle to travel the known distance.

(B) (i) A particular section of a highway or state highway with a prima facie speed limit that is provided by this code or by local ordinance under subparagraph (A) of paragraph (2) of subdivision (a) of Section 22352, or established under Section 22354, 22357, 22358, or 22358.3, if that prima facie speed limit is not justified by an engineering and traffic survey conducted within one of the following time periods, prior to the date of the alleged violation, and enforcement of the speed limit involves the use of radar or any other electronic device that measures the speed of moving objects:

(I) Except as specified in subclause (II), seven years.
(II) If an engineering and traffic survey was conducted more than seven years prior to the date of the alleged violation, and a registered engineer evaluates the section of the highway and determines that no significant changes in roadway or traffic conditions have occurred, including, but not limited to, changes in adjoining property or land use, roadway width, or traffic volume, 10 years.

(ii) This subparagraph does not apply to a local street, road, or school zone.

SEC. 2. No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution because the only costs that may be incurred by a local agency or school district will be incurred because this act creates a new crime or infraction, eliminates a crime or infraction, or changes the penalty for a crime or infraction, within the meaning of Section 17556 of the Government Code, or changes the definition of a crime within the meaning of Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution. All matter omitted in this version of the bill appears in the bill as amended in the Senate, March 26, 2007. (JR11)



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