Red Light Camera Ticket with No 30 Day Notice Affirmed
Vehicle Code § 21455.5(b) obligated the city installing such a camera to make a public announcement concerning its installation and then have an initial 30-day period after installation during which warnings are given instead of citations.Brief Synopsis: Red light camera ticket affirmed by California Supreme Court for a motorist receiving such a ticket at an intersection that had such a camera for two years. The motorist claimed that all tickets issued in the City of Culver City were invalid because the city violated Vehicle Code § 21455.5(b) that obligated the city to allow a 30-day grace period after the camera was installed before any tickets were issued.
The statute was vague as to whether this public announcement and 30-day warning period concern only the city’s first such red light camera or every red light camera later installed at different intersections.
Therefore, one issue suggested by this conduct is that the City of Culver City violated section 21455.5(b) regardless of whether the ticket issued to Mr. Gray was from the first red light camera.
Gray first pled not guilty and sought dismissal, arguing that Culver City had failed to comply with Vehicle Code § 21455.5(b). The Los Angeles County judge hearing his motion denied it ruling that the statute only applied to the city’s first installation of a red light camera, which apparently was not the same camera that took Gray’s photo and it was not within 30 days of that camera being installed, even if at a different location.
The trial court then found Gray guilty of the charge. Gray then appealed to the Appellate Division of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, which affirmed the trial court. The appellate division disagreed with People v. Park (2010) 187 Cal. App. 4th Supp. 9, which held that a public announcement and a 30-day period of warning notices were required for each installation of a red light camera.
Curiously, the Court of Appeal ordered the case referred to itself under California Code of Civil Procedure § 911 and California Rules of Court, Rule 8.1002. It then affirmed the superior court appellate division.
Mr. Gray then appealed to the California Supreme Court. It ruled in favor of Mr. Gray, insofar at least as Gray argued that a public announcement and 30 day warning notice period was required for each traffic light equipped with a red light camera. However, it affirmed Gray’s conviction, rejecting Gray’s argument that his ticket was invalid because Culver City failed to comply with Vehicle Code § 21455.5(b)’s notice and warning period requirements.
The California Supreme Court’s analysis, in reaching this seemingly confusing result, made sense. It reasoned that 21455.5(b)’s requirement of a 30-day period of warning notices was for the benefit of those violators whose red light violations took place at the specific intersection in question when the red light first became operational.
The court continued, commenting that the announcement and 30-day warning period would not have benefited Mr. Gray because his violation took place two years later. Had Gray’s ticket been issued during the 30-day period, however, it would have been invalid. In other words, Culver City’s compliance with Vehicle Code § 21455.5(b) was not a jurisdictional requirement to enforcement of all red light camera tickets.
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