SAN FRANCISCO—California Assemblymember Phil Ting is proposing to eliminate jaywalking tickets in the state of California. Ting is a representative from the state’s 19th Assembly District, which encompasses parts of San Francisco and San Mateo County.
On Thursday, March 25, Ting introduced AB 1238, The Freedom To Walk Act, which would decriminalize jaywalking.
According to a press release from Ting, AB 1238/The Freedom To Walk Act promotes the fair and equitable use of roadways by:
- Legalizing crossings, when safe, outside of a crosswalk or against a traffic light
- Stopping the undue financial burden on low-income violators, as fines can total hundreds of dollars, if not more, because of added fees tacked on by the court, county, city and other jurisdictions
- Preventing police from using jaywalking as a pretext to stop Black and Brown people, especially since under-resourced neighborhoods often lack adequate crossing infrastructure
Ting’s press release cites data compiled by the California Racial and Identity Profiling Act (RIPA) that shows Blacks are severely overrepresented when it comes to being stopped for jaywalking, up to four-and-a-half times more than their White counterparts.
“Whether it’s someone’s life or the hundreds of dollars in fines, the cost is too much for a relatively minor infraction,” said Ting at a San Francisco press conference. “It’s time to reconsider how we use our law enforcement resources and whether our jaywalking laws really do protect pedestrians.”
The proposal aims to address what Ting describes as a crime that is “arbitrarily enforced” and to which tickets are “disproportionately given to people of color” in sometimes “life-threatening encounters.”
Earlier this month, Virginia became the first state to decriminalize jaywalking with the passage of SB5029.
In San Francisco, pedestrians stopped for jaywalking can face fines of up to $250 for their offense. California is expected to begin debate on AB 1238 next month during its initial committee hearing.