Home>Articles>Bill to Limit Police From Issuing Tickets for ‘Low-Level Violations’ Narrowly Passed In Senate

Senator Steven Bradford. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

Bill to Limit Police From Issuing Tickets for ‘Low-Level Violations’ Narrowly Passed In Senate

Sen. Bradford says SB 50 will ‘help to protect Californians of color from unnecessary harm’

By Evan Symon, June 1, 2023 1:10 pm

A bill to limit law enforcement officers from issuing tickets for “low-level violations”, such as expired plates or  having a light out, was narrowly passed in the Senate on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 50, authored by Senator Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), would prohibit a law enforcement officer from stopping or detaining the operator of a motor vehicle or bicycle for a low-level infraction unless a separate, independent basis for a stop exists. The bill would authorize a law enforcement officer who does not have grounds to stop a vehicle or bicycle, but can determine the identity of the owner, to send a citation or warning letter to the owner.

According to SB 50, low-level infractions would include:

  • A violation related to the registration of a vehicle or vehicle equipment
  • A violation related to the positioning or number of license plates when at least one plate is clearly displayed
  • A violation related to vehicle lighting equipment not illuminating, if the violation is limited to a single brake light, headlight, rear license plate, or running light, or a single bulb in a larger light of the same
  • A violation related to vehicle bumper equipment
  • A violation related to bicycle equipment or operation

In addition, window tinting was originally included in the bill before being removed in a later version. Commercial vehicles would not be covered by the bill and would still be able to be pulled over solely for any of the above reasons if the bill is passed.

Senator Bradford says he wrote the bill over racial profiling concerns by police officers simply pulling over vehicles on one of those pretexts when there is suspicion, as well as concerns of escalated violence in traffic stops caused by simple pull overs.

“We have seen far too many times how traffic stops can rapidly escalate and turn deadly. In this day and age, there’s no reason why Californians should be stopped and potentially subjected to brutality or dehumanization because of an expired license plate,” said Senator Bradford in February. “This legislation will reduce the potential for more harm to innocent members of the public.”

“SB 50 will especially help to protect Californians of color from unnecessary harm and ensure that law enforcement has more time to focus on community safety by preventing and solving serious crimes. The data clearly backs up the need for this legislation. Black Californians are far more likely to be targeted by police. Passing SB 50 will also help to reduce the risk of harm to law enforcement officers by limiting the need for one of the most dangerous elements of their job.”

Bradford specifically cited a 2022 ACLU study that found that  sheriff’s deputies in Los Angeles and Riverside counties spent nearly 9 out of every 10 hours on stops initiated by officers rather than responding to calls for help. Of those stops, 80% were for traffic violations.

SB 50 divides Legislature

Introduced in February, SB 50 quickly became a divisive bill, with many Democrats siding with Republicans against the bill. While supporters used Bradford’s reasoning in backing the bill, detractors quickly noted that traffic infractions were put in place to help save lives and that simple traffic infractions often lead to larger crimes being found out or calling in to find that the driver has active warrants.

Senator Kelly Seyarto. (Photo: sr32.senate.ca.gov)

“A lot of times police will find bad people,” said Senator Kelly Seyarto (R-Murrieta). “Like in Riverside when they got the notorious serial killer William Suff. He was actually pulled over for a taillight violation and subsequently they figured out who he was and arrested him.”

While SB 50 started strong, the growing number of detractors soon became apparent in  Senate committee votes. This led to a full Senate vote showdown this week where the bill was passed 22-11 with 7 abstaining. Had a few of the abstaining votes switched to “no,” SB 50 would not have passed.

SB 50 now heads to the Assembly for a vote, where it is expected to face a stiff challenge due to the growing number of Democrats against the bill. While Bradford hopes to amend the bill again to allow for police to pull someone over for multiple of the challenged safety infractions, such as a broken taillight and expired registration, in an attempt to draw back many votes, it also risks the vote coming back to a clearly divided Senate.

“He doesn’t want to admit it, but SB 50 is really not in great shape,” explained former police officer and law enforcement advisor Joaquin Diaz to the Globe on Thursday. “The fact that many traffic violation pull overs result in larger crimes to be found, convinced many to not go for this one. As has the question of what to do if a few of those infractions happen, but it sounds like Bradford is quickly correcting that mistake. And then there is the issue of safety. A headlight being out is very unsafe, I don’t care if it was faulty or whatnot. It limits your vision, especially in parts of the state not so lit up. And the back light being out could affect your blinkers. Why would you be against safety?”

“But, the big thing is, if police are determined, they’ll find the ways. If there is suspicion and a light is out they can clock you going a few miles above the speed limit or see you give a swerve, or change lanes without signaling. Something else. There’s always something. So this bill is also largely moot. At most, it would just be a smaller added step. At the least, it will mean extra tickets for someone because the police found another reason for the pullover, and now that person the bill was supposed to spare just got even more in trouble. The bill is a nothing bill, and more and more people in Sacramento are realizing this.”

SB 50 is expected to be heard next in the Assembly.

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27 thoughts on “Bill to Limit Police From Issuing Tickets for ‘Low-Level Violations’ Narrowly Passed In Senate

  1. Why don’t the Democrats just cut to the end game they want which is completely abolishing the police and replacing them with “thought crime regulators”?

  2. Yeah. Too many people getting picked up on warrants, drunk, stoned, no license, go bags full of stolen merchandise, 40 year old dudes out on a date with a 13 year old. All “white” violations keeping the POC’s down.
    Spare me…

  3. Senator Steven Bradford is another racist Democrat who wants to legislate public safety based on skin color? Many of us wonder how Democrat Senator Steven Bradford got elected in Senate District 35 when it’s overwhelmingly Hispanic? Hmmm?

  4. They hate the police because they’re city run and they don’t have complete control! Need to have a totalitarian federal police force. Never hear the democrats complain about the corrupt nazi FBI.

    1. On Tuesday around 500 angry Oakland residents demanded action on crime in their city. The Berkeley Scanner ran a full article. Taken from it: “One woman described how police in Oakland are not allowed to pursue drivers who fail to yield even if they’re wearing ski masks and have no license plates.
      And: “Lisa McNally, a public school teacher and third-generation Oaklander, said OPD should resume writing tickets for low-level traffic offenses, starting with license plate violations.
      “Don’t tell me it’s profiling — because you can’t even see who’s in the car,” she said.”

      The business owners and residents describe assaults, robberies, shootings, and horrific acts affecting all in Oakland, and are demanding action.
      And 2 days later…here we are.


  5. Back in the late 90’s, I had the opportunity to do some ride-a-longs with the Fresno Sheriff’s Department on some of their “Gold Star Nights”, which were performed on some summer and early fall weekends. These were saturated patrols in some of the higher crime areas of Fresno.

    Yes, they used some of these Penal Code violations as reasons for their stops but the number of drugs confiscated, guns removed from felons, and outstanding warrant arrests helped reduce (although temporarily) some of the crime.

    The cops knew these PC violations were extremely minor but liked them for “probable cause” to do the stop. Back then, they told me that if these PC violations were eliminated, then they couldn’t do their jobs any more. A couple of the Deputies I rode with are no longer around and at least two of them are rolling in their graves due to the stupidity of Sacramento.

    On a side note, COPS was filming on one weekend and one of the calls we responded to made one of the broadcasts and it was interesting to see the event and how it was edited once we saw it on the air.

    1. By the way, some good news, everyone. AB 742, Asm Corey Jackson’s bill that ends the use of K-9 officers, police dogs, has been shelved for now. Apparently Jackson was never able to get enough support for it. GOOD. Jackson said, rather ineffectively however, that he would “work with police” before possibly trying to bring it back again next year. We’ll see.
      “AB 742 fails – police can continue using K-9s in arrests and crowd control”

  6. Our liberal legislators and Governor seem to thrive on enabling criminal activity on every level. Here we have a new minor level of allowable mischief that will become one for the middle-class, traffic violations. It’s bad enough that California’s society is already unraveling, encouraging more of it is unbelievable. On the other side of all of this, all the laws being passed attack the middle-class, civil rights, and law-abiding citizens. Why these people are continually voted back into office is a mystery to me.

    1. Once a person recognizes that in CA we don’t have clean or even “clean-enough” elections, it all makes sense.

  7. I went to Lowes to buy a riding lawn mower this Memorial weekend, it had to be ordered went to order it and it can’t be sold in California, so I picked a different one, it can’t be sold in California. The three that I was interested in none can be sold in California. Sure, you can buy an electric one that last for 2 hours then has to be charged at a lot higher price. Why are the politicians of this state trying to ruin the state? I just don’t understand. I guess they want you to go to Nevada buy it and bring it back here. Just odd! But if this bill passes, I will never pay the high DMV charges again LOL

    1. Jack,
      Most of the California elected officials (in the senate, assembly, etc) have never worked real jobs and, therefore, make decisions and pass laws based on emotions rather than logic.

  8. Reminds me of 3 proverbs:
    “The law of unintended consequences”,
    “The road to Hell is paved with …”,
    “For the want of a nail, the shoe was …”

  9. Present company notwithstanding,
    California has only to look in the mirror as to how theses politicians and their ideas get any hearing.
    Prop 47 and 57 passed with a healthy 60%, starting back in 2014. I look around my neighbors, God love them, but I also know 6 out of 10 of them voted against our/my best interests.
    It is heartening to read that AB 742 and SB 50 are on the ropes, it is also heartening to see “with many Democrats siding with Republicans against the bill.”
    Hopefully it is not too late, that theses activist and emotional politicians are getting a cold shoulder of reality.
    The electorate is starting to complain, but one only needs to view ‘Nextdoor’ and see that some people are still not understanding their complacency in all this.
    Talk to your neighbors, give them some historical context of elections have consequences.
    Hopefully this state can be saved.
    The California Globe is adult news without the Breitbart flavor that I think can be shared with our neighbors to counter the Sacramento Bee or the Chronicle.
    Thank God for’em

    1. Sacramento needs more honest, level-headed and studied political representation like that of Senator Kelly Seyarto. Thank you Sen Seyarto!

  10. Sacramento needs more honest, level-headed and studied political representation like that of Senator Kelly Seyarto. Thank you Sen Seyarto!

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