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Local

Calif. Drivers Face Higher Traffic Fines In 2011

Cameras on street sweepers also to catch violators
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(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — California motorists, already in sticker shock over rising fines for parking and traffic tickets, should prepare for more beginning New Year’s Day, The Los Angeles Times reported Friday.

The state is adding $4 to the price of every traffic ticket. The fee will pay for emergency air transport services because of a revenue shortfall in Medi-Cal funding. It is set to generate an estimated $34 million a year through 2016, according to state estimates, The Times reported.

The increase is the latest in a string of fee increases statewide and in Los Angeles, as governments turn to motorists to pay more amid budget problems. Last year, the state increased the fines for traffic tickets and used the proceeds to help renovate courthouses. The changes included a $35 surcharge on traffic tickets, the newspaper reported.

Another law taking effect Saturday opened the door to a potential revenue stream for cities: allowing local agencies to install cameras on street sweepers to catch parking violators.

Assemblyman Steve Bradford (D-Gardena), who wrote the bill, said in a statement that it “is vital to keeping our waterways clean” and that ticketing more cars that block street sweepers will help.

Operators of the street sweepers won’t actually issue tickets to violators. Rather, cameras on the vehicles would capture the date and time of a violation and cities would mail citations, similar to the way red-light camera tickets are issued, The Times reported.

Bradford said the photo tickets would “remove personnel from potentially volatile confrontations when issuing citations and allow local parking enforcement officers to focus time and efforts on more pertinent matters.”

It’s unclear how many cities plan to use sweeper cameras. Los Angeles had no plans to install the cameras on street sweepers yet but it “may be looked at in the future,” said Sean Anderson, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Department of Transportation.

There has been grumbling from some motorists over rising traffic fines.

According to a report prepared earlier this year, revenues from red-light cameras more than doubled in Los Angeles from $200,000 a month in 2007 to $400,000 a month at the end of 2009, the newspaper reported.

(©2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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