Overview: The California Supreme Court has ruled that the statutory provision requiring a city to make a public announcement and issue warnings instead of citations for 30 days after the installation of a red light camera applies each time a new camera is installed. However, a city’s failure to provide the 30-day period of warnings and public notice does not preclude subsequent prosecution of individuals for violating the red light traffic law.
Training Points: For communities using red light camera enforcement systems, this ruling should support citations for intersections that began operation without compliance with the 30-day notice and warning period. However, the California Supreme Court made it clear that communities are required to comply with the notice and warning periods prior to each installation, not just for the first intersection.
Summary Analysis: In People v. Gray, Gray was convicted of running a red light after a red light camera photographed him traveling through an intersection. The statute authorizing the use of red light cameras requires that their operation be preceded by a public announcement, as well as an initial 30-day period during which only warnings are to be issued. Gray argued that this statutory period applied to the installation of cameras at each additional intersection—not just the first intersection—and that the city’s failure to comply invalidated the citation. While the California Supreme Court agreed with Gray that each installation required a separate notice and warning period, the Court still held that the city’s failure to comply did not invalidate traffic citations. Compliance with the 30-day period was not a jurisdictional precondition to enforcement of the red light traffic law.