Earlier this year Jim Pocrass, a personal injury lawyer at Pocrass and De Los Reyes and an LACBC Board Member, was our guest on Bike Talk and wrote a guest blog about new laws related to bicycling in 2016. One of those laws was a change in California vehicle code for adult bicyclists who get a ticket while riding. This is a follow up to that post.
LACBC, along with bicycle advocacy groups throughout the state, supported CalBike’s sponsorship in 2015 to change the law that prevented diversion programming for adult bicyclists in California. The change in the law was introduced by Assemblymember Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) and Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco) and went into effect on January 1, 2016.
What this means to bicyclists throughout the state is that, if a bicyclist gets a ticket while riding, they can now legally attend a diversion program (a bicycle traffic school) to reduce or eliminate the fine. What you may not know is that prior to the change in the law, such programs were not technically legal in California for adults; only minors could attend such classes. It was also an unequal system in which motor vehicle drivers could attend traffic school, but bicycle riders could not—and the ticket fines are often the same! This can be a major problem for those in low-income communities of color where some individuals may not be able to pay a hefty traffic fine.
The change in the law was a victory for advocacy groups statewide and everyone who rides a bike in California. At LACBC, we often get phone calls from people who have gotten citations while riding a bike, and many have been surprised by the amount of the fine and the fact that there was no formal process to go to traffic school to reduce it. So now that the law has been changed, it is up to the cities to implement the programs. Unlike traffic school for motorists, which is overseen by the DMV, a diversion program for bicyclists is the responsibility of each city in California.
Since the approval of the change last year, LACBC has been communicating with L.A. city staff and LAPD to initiate such a program, and L.A. Councilmember Jose Huizar introduced a motion on April 12, 2016, which directs the Los Angeles Department of Transportation and LAPD to report on establishing a diversion program for bicyclists in the City of L.A. The motion was supported by Councilmember Mike Bonin and is expected to go to the City’s Public Safety and Transportation Committees some time in the coming months. LACBC welcomes the motion from Councilmember Huizar and commends his leadership for proposing the motion and for Councilmember Bonin’s support.
LACBC will be posting updates as the Diversion Program for L.A. develops. We’d also like to hear from you! If you have been given a ticket while riding your bike in Los Angeles, let us know by completing this short survey at http://goo.gl/forms/qisIE0SlNv.