Bay Area lawmaker proposes cut 'California stop' fines in half

Byby Tiffany Wilson KGO logo
Tuesday, January 19, 2016
Bay Area lawmaker proposes cut 'California stop' fines in half
St. Sen. Jerry Hill says traffic fines are just too much to pay for some people and proposed legislation to knock down those fines.

MILLBRAE, Calif. (KGO) -- You've probably heard of a "California stop" when a driver rolls through a red light or stop sign without actually stopping. If a red light camera catches you, expect a pricey ticket in the mail. However, relief may soon be on the way.

If you drive your car up onto the sidewalk, you can get a $250 fine. If you drive down the wrong way on a one-way street, that's another $250 fine. If you roll through a red light, you can get hit with a $500 fine. One local politician says it is not fair and it is time to change.

It happened in a flash. One second San Francisco resident Keith Gorman was turning into the BART parking lot, the next he was out nearly $500.

"Almost $500 for rolling into a parking lot seems absolutely egregious," Gorman said.

Traffic cameras caught him rolling right on red, committing a so-called "California stop". Gorman said he thought he stopped, but the ticket showed up in the mail.

"We do alright, but I thought this could really, really damage somebody who doesn't make that much money. Somebody who's maybe an hourly employee," Gorman said.

That is exactly the concern of St. Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo. He said, "Many people are making $3,000 a month, $2,500 and when you take taxes, their net take-home pay, this is over a fourth of what they take home," Hill said.

He introduced legislation last week that would cut the fine for "California stops" in half. He thinks the punishment should really fit the crime.

Pacifica resident Vanessa Gonzalez wishes the lower rates were already in effect. She works at an In-N-Out restaurant and received two tickets in the same month. The $1,000 price tag was more than her monthly paycheck.

"I got both of those tickets in the mail and I was just like, 'Oh my gosh. I make pretty good here, but a $1,000 is a lot for one month," Gonzalez said.

She used her savings to cover the bill. The governor vetoed a proposal to reduce the fine in 2010. Hill is optimistic it will pass this time around.