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Assemblyman Philip Y. Ting who introduced AB 1215.

Jaywalking Decriminilization Bill Introduced In Assembly

‘Citations are disproportionately given to low-income people of color’

By Evan Symon, March 25, 2021 5:36 pm

On Thursday, a bill that would decriminalize jaywalking in California was formally introduced in the Assembly.

Assembly Bill 1238, authored by Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), would make it legal to cross a street when not at a crosswalk or against the crosswalk light when it is not an “immediate hazard” to do so. Amendments to AB 1238, also known as the Freedom to Walk Act, are expected, as lawmakers are currently working with law enforcement officials to better define what constitutes an “immediate hazard.”

In addition, all fines associated with jaywalking, which can reach into the hundreds of dollars in some cities and counties, would be eliminated.

Assemblyman Ting wrote AB 1238 because of the high costs of fines that jaywalking can bring, unfairly affecting poorer people.

“Whether it’s someone’s life or the hundreds of dollars in fines, the cost is too much for a relatively minor infraction,” said Assemblyman Ting in a statement on Thursday. “It’s time to reconsider how we use our law enforcement resources and whether our jaywalking laws really do protect pedestrians.”

Many other lawmakers and groups also noted how minorities are adversely affected by jaywalking tickets.

Supporters, such as the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, say the bill is necessary.

“Jaywalking is arbitrarily and unfairly enforced across California,” said Rio Scharf of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area on Thursday. “Citations are disproportionately given to low-income people of color, and enforcement sometimes leads to fatal encounters with police. When people are charged with jaywalking, the result is hundreds of dollars in fines and fees they cannot afford, and, in some counties, warrants and arrests for people who do not pay or appear in court.”

A September 2020 report by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area found that black adults in California are up to 9.7 times more likely to receive a citation for local infractions such as jaywalking than white Californians.

Amendments, further debate expected due to broadness of current wording in bill

While there has been no opposition against the bill as of Thursday, many have noted that despite jaywalking being a victimless crime, there are safety considerations to consider.

“This is why the police are working with lawmakers on the wording,” lawyer Mark Roth, who has consulted on jaywalking offenses before, explained to the Globe. “Fining someone for walking across the middle of a deserted street is one thing, while some person trying to cross Frogger-style across a busy street with moving cars is another. Pedestrians have the right of way, but when common sense and safety come into play then it becomes complicated.”

“I think a lot of lawmakers will wait and see what the final wording of is in the bill before making a judgement. Who knows, some may add things such as people wearing headphones being a factor in jaywalking, accidental crossings, or a host of other variables. I mean, the bill isn’t even complete yet.”

“So we’re going to see a lot of those things pop up as the bill heads later into the year, because when it comes to decriminalizing something like this, there will be a lot of arguments over little things.”

AB 1238 is expected to be sent to an Assembly Committee in the coming weeks.

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6 thoughts on “Jaywalking Decriminilization Bill Introduced In Assembly

  1. With ALL the serious problems faced by the citizens of California, THIS is the most important thing to be addressed in Ting’s estimation???

    See, another Bay Area liberal pandering to his social justice warriors rather than doing something IMPORTANT for the California economy & citizens….

    Maybe we should start a recall initiative on Ting for wasting our time on frivolous matters??

    What a doofus…

  2. How insulting that the racist buffoon, Ting, from San Francisco, of course, thinks that the poor, and “people of color”, whatever that means, are too ignorant and stupid to understand traffic laws. So, these inferior idiots need the virtuous Ting to save them from committing traffic law violations and being stopped by racist police.
    Pathetic.

  3. By eliminating the jay-walking law (which is not as useless as it appears to be) San Francisco’s own Phil Ting is obviously in favor of drug-addicted vagrants being mowed down by speeding cars in greater numbers. The truth of this observation is bolstered by, e.g., nothing done about exponential increases in overdose deaths on the streets of San Francisco, which is also the responsibility of Ting and the SF leadership. It’s pretty obvious that they don’t care in the least about the lost souls on their streets and have settled upon letting them exterminate themselves as a way to solve the pesky problem of drug-addicted and mentally ill homeless zombies roaming the streets.
    Also if they cared at all about “the poor” and “people of color” I can think of a lot of policies these people would be embracing instead of the ones they do embrace. “The poor” and “people of color” are more often the victims of crime than anyone else, and we know how SF leadership and representation feel about the police and good prosecutors and effective law enforcement policies that would protect the citizenry and prevent them from being victims of crime. Phonies.

  4. How many times have you had to slow down or come to a stop screeching your brakes because some idiot ran in front of you jaywalking? My solution is out of left field and my post may be deleted. Pass AB 1238 but then take away the “Pedestrians right of way” when jaywalking.

    1. You make a good point, John. But they won’t do that, will they? Because then it would be too obvious what they’re really up to. 🙂

  5. Assembly Bill 1238 merely recognizes and codifies the existing cultural shift that has taken place over the past dozen or so years. Jay-walking is now the norm, not the occasional aberration. Whether or not Assembly Bill 1238 passes, the only applicable definition of “immediate hazard” now is 20/20 hindsight:
    – Did the pedestrian make it across the street in one piece? See, it was safe.
    – Was the pedestrian struck and killed? Gee, there WAS an immediate hazard. Shrug.

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