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California: Government Workers May Be Forced To Pay Camera Tickets
California lawmaker wants to close loophole allowing government workers to escape red light camera and toll skipping tickets.

Confidential plateA California state legislator wants to force government employees to pay their red light camera tickets. Assemblyman Jeff Miller (R-Corona) introduced legislation to close the loophole in existing privacy laws that allow judges, off-duty police officers, legislators, prosecutors, jail guards, social workers, park rangers, city councilmen, dog catchers, Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) employees, zoo veterinarians, firefighters and their families to drive on toll roads for free and blow through red lights at will because they are immune to automated fines.

"Assembly Bill 2097 ensures that even government workers pay their traffic tickets," Miller explained in a legislative statement. "Over one million government workers' mailing addresses are not displayed in the DMV public-access records. Because their addresses are hidden, they often don't receive traffic citations that are sent via mail."

California began protecting the home addresses of police officers by offering confidential license plates in 1978. These protected plates prevented members of the public from accessing any information about the protected plate and its owner. Over time, the program expanded to cover a significant portion of the state's unionized workforce. Participants in the confidentiality program soon discovered that the private companies that run automated ticketing machines had no way to identify state employees whose plates came up in the system as "confidential." As a result, the employees are immune from ticketing. The Orange County Register exposed the program in 2008, finding that protected plate holders blew through toll roads without paying on 14,535 occasions.

Miller's bill patches the loophole by requiring plate holders to submit an up-to-date employment address to which the private companies could mail red light camera, parking and toll road tickets. Mailing a ticket to this address would be considered proper service and no employee would be able to renew his vehicle registration until all outstanding tickets were fully paid.

"AB 2097 generates additional revenue for transportation projects, without raising taxes or fees, by closing the loophole in the law that hides mailing addresses from toll road, traffic ticket, and parking citation enforcement," Miller explained.

The proposal would fully maintain the confidentiality of home addresses for government workers in sensitive positions. A hearing on the bill is scheduled for April 19 in the Assembly Transportation Committee. A copy of the legislation is available in a 160k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: Assembly Bill 2097 (California State Assembly, 2/18/2010)

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