Biological challenges with testing drugged drivers

In a recent article published by NPR, numerous experts ranging from neurobiologists to lawyers look at the challenges law enforcement and the courts face with determining impairment in drugged drivers. Specifically the article looks at challenges shared by researchers and lawmakers alike. With scientists struggle with how to draw up a biological measurement for marijuana intoxication, legislators seek ways to quickly identify and penalize people who are too high to drive. The instinct, according to Marilyn Huestis of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, is to come up with a law that parallels the 0.08 BAC standard for alcohol. "Everyone is looking for one number," she says. "And it's almost impossible to come up with one number. Occasional users can be very impaired at one microgram per liter, and chronic, frequent smokers will be over one microgram per liter maybe for weeks."

Wisc. Report finds Non-compliance with Ignition Interlock Orders

Wisconsin judges have ordered tens of thousands of ignition interlock devices installed on the vehicles of convicted drunken drivers over the past several years. But state Department of Transportation figures show that just over half of the defendants involved have had the devices installed in their vehicles. This week WISC-TV reported that nearly 54,350 devices were ordered to be installed on the vehicles of convicted offenders, while only about 30,750 of the devices were issued. The installers that contract with the state report when the ignition interlock devices are installed, and the device itself is monitored. Offenders who don’t fulfill their sentence and install the devices will receive a traffic citation if they’re caught, but it’s not considered a crime under state law.

Class Action Challenges License Suspension in Florida DUI Cases

A federal lawsuit is challenging the way driver's licenses are automatically taken away from drunken-driving suspects in Florida. The class-action lawsuit filed on February 17, 2016 in federal court in Orlando says the current process denies DUI suspects the right to due process. The lawsuit is seeking more than $50 million from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. The lawsuit says there is no independent judge or hearing officer to consider a defendant's challenge to having a driver's license suspended. Any challenge goes before a hearing officer at the agency. The lawsuit calls that arrangement "a kangaroo court" and says it stacks the deck against a defendant.

Issue Brief: Child Endangerment Statutes

In this edition of the Issue Brief series (brought to you by the Traffic Resource Center) we look at the three different ways in which 46 states have implemented statutes which provide for additional punishments for intoxicated drivers who are transporting children while they are driving under the influence.

Upcoming Courses at the National Judicial College

The following courses are offered by the NJC in Reno, Nevada in the coming months. A limited number of scholarships are available through generous funding from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Please contact Rebecca Bluemer at Bluemer@judges.org for more information.

Traffic Issues in the 21st Century. May 16-19. Reno, NV: This course is designed to provide judges with an overview of the impaired driving issue, and will provide insight into several pertinent areas, such as impairment detection methods, the pharmacological effects of drugs and alcohol on the human body, and effective sentencing methods. The arena of traffic-related legal matters is constantly evolving, and as such, it is necessary for traffic adjudicators to stay abreast of the newly emerging issues. Our Traffic Issues in the 21st Century course will delve into the most up-to-date, pertinent traffic topics that are appearing in our courts today. This years’ topics will include: the fundamentals of alcohol and drug testing; understanding addiction issues; marijuana legalization and related traffic issues; the Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST) information and demonstration; distracted driving issues; elder driver issues; self-represented litigants; and Commercial Driver’s License issues.

NCSC Traffic Resource Center

The Traffic Resource Center is a cooperative effort between the Department of Transportation and the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) to establish a resource for judges, court administrators, court clerks, and other court staff on issues related to traffic adjudication. It is an integrated clearinghouse of information as well as a training and technical assistance resource to improve court decision-making and processing of traffic cases involving impaired driving, drugged driving, distracted driving, and commercial driving. The purpose of the Traffic Resource Center website is to provide a useful, ready reference for judges new to the bench or recently assigned to traffic cases, who may need quick access to accurate and timely information until they can receive more formal, structured education.

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