By Laura Haefeli

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Justifying jaywalking? It’s a controversial crime that many people just simply ignore, but now California could soon make it legal to cross outside of a crosswalk.

It’s a crime many people admit doing and now, California state lawmakers have voted to legalize crossing the street mid-block if no cars are around.

READ MORE: Tuesday's Show Info. (7/5/22)

The bill’s author, Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), says jaywalking tickets have become a way for police to unfairly target minorities.

“The people who are getting cited are disproportionately African American,” Ting said. “We have the example of Nandi Cain, who in Sacramento was crossing the street. Law enforcement chased this individual down and they started beating him.”

The bill is supported by pedestrian safety groups—including Walk Sacramento.

“If there aren’t any crosswalks or there’s not an easy place to cross, they don’t think that individuals should be cited,” Ting said.

But the debate comes at a time when fatal pedestrian accidents are on the rise.

So far this year, 16 pedestrians have been killed on Sacramento streets.

READ MORE: Electra Fire: Roughly 100 People Evacuated After Spending Hours Stranded In PG&E Power Plant

That’s more than all of the year 2020 when 15 people died. In 2019, 13 were killed.

Investigators say pedestrians are at fault more than 75% of the time.

Some people fear the change won’t be safe.

“I don’t think it should be legal because drivers have to be aware of people darting out in the street,” one resident said.

But others say penalizing pedestrians on an empty street is wrong.

“I feel like it’s probably OK so long as there’s no cars coming,” another person said.

MORE NEWS: Crews Extinguish Vegetation Fire That Threatened 4 Sacramento Homes

The bill has now been sent to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk—and if signed—it would take effect January 1.