Century Council Press Announcement on Reducing Recidivism

The Century Council has partnered with the Division on Addictions at the Cambridge Health Alliance, a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School, to reduce drunk driving recidivism among the highest risk offenders.  They will conduct a briefing on Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013, from 9-10 am at The National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The briefing will feature Dr. Howard Shaffer and Dr. Sarah Nelson from the Division on Addictions. In addition to a discussion on the strong links between substance use, DUI, criminal behavior, and underlying mental health issues, they will demonstrate the Computerized Assessment Referral System, their cutting edge clinical report generator tool to advance treatment of DUI offenders. Click here for more information.

Teens Waiting Longer to Drive
 
Stateline reported on September 2, 2013 that since the beginning of the recession, teenagers have waited longer to get a driver’s license.  While this might appear to improve highway safety, the change may actually have the impact of undermining states use of graduated license programs to develop safer drivers.  The article notes, “Safety experts credit the graduated driver’s licenses, which states began adopting in the mid-1990s...for reducing teen deaths in traffic accidents.”  Teenagers had previously been required to typically start with a learner’s permit and then move on to some form of a restricted license.  Many teenagers are now waiting until eighteen when they can receive an unrestricted driver’s license without the graduated steps. This article is interesting because it describes different views on the impact of this changing driver licensing phenomena on highway safety.

 

Youtube DUI Causing Death Confession

The LA Times reported on Septmember 9, 2013 that an Ohio man used YouTube to confess to a fatal drunk driving crash and has since been indicted. Twenty-two year old Matthew Cordle was driving the wrong way on a highway in Columbus, Ohio in June 2013 when he struck a vehicle being driven by 61 year old Vincent Canzani. Canzani was killed and Cordle was charged with aggravated vehicular homicide.  The newspaper article contains a link to the Youtube confession.  The interesting aspect of this story is that it demonstrates another way that social media has become intertwined with the judicial system.

 

Liability for Knowingly Texting the Driver of an Automobile?

The Superior Court of New Jersey published an opinion on August 27, 2013 in the case of Linda Kubert and David Kubert v. Kyle Best, Susan R. Best Executrix of the Estate of Nicholas J. Best Deceased and Shannon Colonna.  In 2009, Kyle Best was driving while he was sending and receiving text messages from his girlfriend, Shannon Colonna.  Ms. Colonna sent Mr. Best a text message and 17 seconds later he called 911 for assistance.  In the interim seconds, Mr. Best had drifted from his lane of traffic and hit the plaintiffs head on, leaving them with horrific injuries.  The plaintiffs sued both Mr. Best and Ms. Colonna.  The Court stated, “We hold that the sender of a text message can potentially be liable if an accident is caused by texting, but only if the sender knew or had special reason to know that the recipient would view the text while driving and thus be distracted.”  However, in this case they ruled that Ms. Colonna was unaware that Mr. Best was driving at the time the text was sent, so she avoided any potential liability. 

The Debate Over a .05 BAC Limit

The Chicago Tribune published an article on September 1, 2013 which describes the debate caused by the National Transportation Safety Board recommendation to lower the legal limit of intoxication for motor vehicle operation to a blood alcohol content of 0.05 from 0.08.  The article notes that there is research that suggests that the change could save 500 to 1,000 people a year from being killed on the roads in alcohol related crashes.  However, there is opposition to the change from the alcohol industry.  The article does a  good job of describing the positions held by a variety of stakeholder groups. 

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