As this is the last newsletter of 2017, I'd like to wish everyone a happy holiday season and a happy new year! See you in 2018!
Legislators in Wisconsin Propose Interlocks for First-Time Offenders
New proposed legislation from three Wisconsin lawmakers would require all OWI offenders to install an ignition interlock in their vehicles. State Senator Chris Larson, along with State Representatives Christine Sinicki and Jonathan Brostoff, are working on a draft piece of legislation that would scrap the state's current standard for interlock installation, under which first-time offenders are only required to install interlocks if their BAC at the time of arrest is 0.15 or higher. Wisconsin saw 193 OWI-related traffic crash deaths in 2016. To read an article from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel about the proposed legislation, click here.
Colorado Gives DUI Offenders Personal Breathalyzers
This summer, the state of Colorado gave 475 DUI offenders personal breathalyzers so that they could measure their alcohol consumption before driving, in hopes that having the device would allow them to make better judgments and not drive while intoxicated. The program seems to have worked, with 75 percent of the participants having used their breathalyzers to determine whether they were impaired before attempting to drive. Only one program participant received a DUI while in the program, and the number of participants who estimated that they had driven drunk in the previous months fell from 28% to 9% after getting use of the breathalyzers. You can read the Colorado Department of Transportation's press release and program information here.
Carol Stream, Illinois Police to Try Roadside Driver Drug Test Machines
Last month, we ran a story about Michigan starting a pilot program for roadside oral fluid drug tests. This month, law enforcement in Carol Stream, Illinois, announced their intent to implement a similar roadside drug testing program, which will be the first such program in the state of Illinois. The device that Carol Stream police will be using registers measurements for the amount of drugs present in the bloodstream, which is important, given that in 2016, Illinois changed the minimum threshold for marijuana impairment from a per se law to 5 nanograms per milliliter in blood. Police plan to ask drivers to voluntarily submit to the test when the program begins, but will only use the roadside test results as a comparison with lab test results at first, not as evidence to be used in prosecution. For more information on the program, see this article from the Chicago Tribune.
Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over's 2017 Campaign
NHTSA's 2017 Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign started on December 13th and will run through December 31st. During the campaign, NHTSA is partnering with law enforcement agencies across the country to provide stepped-up enforcement and awareness campaigns to combat drunk driving across the nation during the holiday season. You can see a press release from one of the local law enforcement partner agencies here (this one from Arlington, VA).
U.K. Supreme Court Permits Fighting Drinking Problem With Alcohol Prices
The United Kingdom's Supreme Court ruled last month that Scotland can implement a six-year experimental program that would mandate minimum prices for alcohol. According to a survey by Alcohol Focus Scotland, the average Scot currently consumes approximately 20% more alcohol than the average resident of England or Wales, and approximately one in four Scots drink at levels deemed harmful. Because of this level of alcohol consumption and the public health hazards associated with it, the Scottish Parliament passed legislation mandating minimum pricing five years ago, but the move had been held up in litigation from industry players since then. The U.K. Supreme Court, however, held that the legislation did not violate EU law and was a proportionate measure to deal with a legitimate public health issue. The legislation will mandate a minimum price of 50 pence (half a British pound) per unit, defined as 10 milliliters (approximately one-third of an ounce) of pure alcohol. For more information on how that will affect drink prices in Scotland, you can read this BBC article, which includes a very helpful price table to help conceptualize the change. To read the U.K. Supreme Court's judgment in this case, click here.
NCSC Traffic Resources
If you are not familiar with our Traffic Resource Center for Judges, we invite you to take a few minutes to browse the website here, including our new resource page on ignition interlocks. We also still have physical copies of our 2017 Traffic Issue Brief Compendium, which may be acquired by emailing Greg Hurley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Upcoming Courses at the National Judicial College
The following courses are offered by the National Judicial College in Reno, Nevada, in the coming year. A limited number of scholarships are available through generous funding from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Please contact Katheryn Yetter at email@example.com or (775) 327-8269 for more information.
FMCSA National Webcast Series (online webcasts; free)
Ethically Adjudicating CDL/CMV Cases for Traffic Judges (various dates; online; free) This webcast will answer: (1) What constitutes a “conviction” under federal regulations? (2) What does “masking” mean? (3) Why Federal law prohibits the “masking” of CDL violations? NJC’s webcast will provide you with guidance on handling these technical and troublesome cases. Dates vary by state.
Drugged Driving Essentials (May 22-24, 2018; Reno, NV) Unlike alcohol-impaired driving, drugged driving has no bright line test for impairment. Drugged driving cases require a judge to utilize a variety of judicial tools to effectively adjudicate these cases. In addition to the ability to determine which kinds of drugs an individual may be using, it is important to know how these drugs affect the individual, and may impair their ability to function. It is also imperative that a judge knows how to effectively craft sentences, which include treatment options, in order to provide a participant with the most beneficial mode of recovery.
Traffic Issues in the 21st Century (October 8-11, 2018; Reno, NV) Judges are facing more complex traffic issues as the law and technology progress. This course is designed to provide an overview of current traffic laws and technological trends and their applications to the judiciary. After this course, participants will be able to: improve public perception of the courts; manage and adjudicate fairly and efficiently; identify the behaviors that impair safe driving; explain the basic provisions relating to commercial motor vehicle laws and regulations; identify key issues associated with special driving populations, including younger and older drivers; summarize new technology and practices used in traffic law enforcement, adjudication and sentencing; and fully understand cultural diversity issues, including racial profiling.
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