Judging Traffic (February 2018): PA Lawsuit re: License Suspensions; French Smartphone Ban; Tesla Autopilot Defense...
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1 in 3 Young Adults Ride With Impaired Drivers

A new study out of Colorado State University shows that approximately one-third of people who are within two years of having graduated from high school have admitted to riding in a car in which the driver was impaired by either alcohol or illicit drugs. Approximately 20% of those surveyed said they had ridden in a car in which the driver was under the influence of alcohol, and approximately 23% said they had ridden in a car in which the driver was under the influence of marijuana. A smaller percentage admitted to riding in a car in which the driver was under the influence of another illicit drug. A previous study done by some of the same authors showed that riding with a driver who was under the influence was a risk factor for those passengers later driving while impaired themselves. These numbers are particularly worrying because youth impaired drivers are several times more likely than adult impaired drivers to be involved in a motor vehicle crash. To read the full text of the study, visit this link, and for more context about the study, see this Reuters article.

Georgia Legislature Passes Distracted Driving Bill

The Georgia legislature passed a distracted driving bill on the last day of its 2018 legislative session. House Bill 673 requires motorists in Georgia to use hands-free technology if they are attempting to use a mobile electronic device while driving. Drivers may not hold or support a mobile electronic device, use the device to physically send a message, reach for a device, or watch or record a video while driving under the new law. They may, however, dictate a text using hands-free technology, use a mapping app, wear and use a smart watch, and/or use an earpiece to talk on the phone, as well as use a device in some other limited situations in which an emergency use of a mobile device may be warranted. The measure was sent by the Georgia governor Nathan Deal's desk, and he is expected to approve the measure. For a summary of what drivers are (and are not) allowed to do under the new law, see this link from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. For background on the legislative process of the bill, see this link from the AJC. To read the full text of the bill, click here.

Despite Fatal Crash, Autonomous Cars Spread

Even in the wake of last month's fatal autonomous Uber crash in Tempe, Arizona, other automotive industry players are continuing to push ahead with developing and testing self-driving vehicles. One of Uber's rival companies, Waymo (owned by Google's parent company, Alphabet), recently filed for a permit with the state of California to publicly test fully self-driven vehicles. Waymo is only the second company to file for such a permit, the first company being Uber itself. Ford has also announced its intention to launch a large-scale autonomous car service by 2021. The company has already started running tests in Miami, partnering with Domino's to test pizza delivery and with Postmates to test package delivery in driverless cars. Finally, Chinese technology giant conglomerate Alibaba has also reportedly been testing autonomous cars. China is the world's largest market for new cars and is also reportedly much more receptive to the idea of self-driving vehicles, and so Alibaba and other Chinese companies testing autonomous cars may be able to help drive the international market for them.

New Colorado Non-Profit Attempts to Reduce DUIs

A new Colorado non-profit is attempting to encourage Colorado drivers to behave responsibly and not to drive while impaired. Impaired-driving crashes have increased over the past couple of years in Colorado, and so a Durango, Colorado non-profit, Celebrating Healthy Communities, applied and was given a state grant to form the non-profit and also to create county-specific organizations to combat impaired driving and promote responsibility behind the wheel. The organization's Project Director said that he hopes to reach out to many different constituents with an interest in the matter, from law enforcement to medical professionals to food and beverage industry representatives, as well as Colorado's burgeoning legal cannabis industry. For more information on the organization and for contact information on how to join the coalition, see this article from the Durango Herald.

Roanoke DUI Task Force Completes First Year

The Roanoke Valley (Virginia) DUI Task Force recently completed their first year on patrol--and wound up making significantly more arrests than they anticipated making their first year. The six member force made 385 DUI arrests in its first year, an average of just over one every day for the previous year. Of the 385 arrests, 310 drivers were under the influence of alcohol, while 75 were under the influence of drugs. The task force made 43 felony arrests in the year, 83 misdemeanor arrests, and 269 arrests for driving without a license or driving on a suspended license. The task force was created by a grant from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, and has been renewed for a second year. To read more about the task force, 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. We also recently uploaded the third video in our series of videos about hot topics in impaired driving adjudication. That video, about DWI/DUI courts, can be found on this page. We also still have physical copies of our 2017 Traffic Issue Brief Compendium, which may be acquired by emailing Greg Hurley at ghurley@ncsc.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 yetter@judges.org or (775) 327-8269 for more information.

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. Recordings available of past webcasts.

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.

Drugs in America Today: What Every Judge Needs To Know (June 4-6, 2018; Las Vegas, NV) With opiate addiction at epidemic levels in both urban and rural America, the NJC has crafted a new course that focuses on the neurology of addiction with an emphasis on heroin and painkillers. This course will provide an in-depth analysis of the science behind addiction and will offer practical solutions for the judge to manage all case types affected by drug use.

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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