Webinar! Impaired Driving Risk Assessment: Reducing Recidivism

On August 27, 2014, there will be a webinar from the ABA Center for Professional Development which will provide information vital to judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys and other criminal justice practitioners concerning the sentencing of impaired drivers. It centers on the use of evidence informed risk assessment tools which can help to identify the criminogenic thinking and characteristics that are identifiers for potential repeat offenders. Assessment tools can also assist with matching an impaired driver with appropriate programs and interventions proven to reduce recidivism and reduce substance misuse, resulting in increased public safety. This seminar will provide the criminal justice practitioner with the latest research on the characteristics of repeat impaired drivers along with screening tools to help identify these characteristics and assist in fashioning sentences that will foster public safety by placing offenders in appropriate treatment interventions.

Judge Warns "Keep it in Court" or Risk Contempt

A state district court judge has told Montana Attorney General Tim Fox and 11 other state county attorneys and law enforcement officials they will be found in contempt of court if any of them contact him again outside a courtroom about Montana’s 24/7 Sobriety Program. Judge James Wheelis’ order prohibits Fox and the others from contacting him ex parte except as permitted by applicable statutes and procedural rules, and adds that “any party or signatory to the attached letter who attempts another ex parte communications with this court will be subject to contempt of court.”

Pennsylvania DUI Bill Stalls in State Senate Committee

A bill that would increase the penalty for people who drive drunk and cause a fatal accident has stalled in a Pennsylvania state Senate committee. The bill passed the House and is now in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Reactions are mixed to the bill, which would increase the mandatory minimum penalty for homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence from three years to five years and include a lifetime driving suspension.

South Dakota Supreme Court: New DUI Ruling Doesn't Impact Past Cases

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling requiring a warrant to draw blood during a DUI arrest will not impact old cases in South Dakota. That was the decision handed down by the South Dakota Supreme Court on Thursday following an appeal from a drunk driver who was arrested back in 2008. Donovan Siers, 49, appealed his drunk driving arrest this spring because officers took a blood sample from him during his arrest in 2008 without his consent. Siers argued that a 2013 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that urged officers to get a warrant to draw blood should be applied to past cases in South Dakota.

Study: Corrections for Racial Dispairities in Law Enforcement

This law review article from the College of Williams and Mary Law School provides a comprehensive examination of criminal dispositions using all DWI cases in North Carolina from 2001 to 2011, focusing on several major decision points in the process. Starting with pretrial hearings and culminating in sentencing results, they track differences in outcomes by race and gender. Before sentencing, they show significant gaps emerge in the severity of pretrial release conditions that disadvantage black and Hispanic defendants. Yet when prosecutors decide whether to pursue charges, they observe an initial correction mechanism: Hispanic men are almost two-thirds more likely to have those charges dropped relative to white men. Although few cases survive after the plea bargaining stage, a second correction mechanism arises: Hispanic men are substantially less likely to receive harsher sentences and are sent to jail for significantly less time relative to white men. The authors discuss possible explanations for these novel empirical results and review methods for more precisely identifying causal mechanisms in criminal justice.

Study: Drug Use, Impaired Driving and Traffic Accidents

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction provides a comprehensive report on the relationship between drug use, impaired driving and traffic accidents. It describes methodological issues, presents the results of prevalence surveys among drivers, provides an overview of findings from major international epidemiological surveys, and gathers evidence from experimental and field studies of the relationship between drug use, driving impairment and traffic accidents.

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.

Upcoming Events

  • October 6-9, 2014:   Traffic Issues in the 21st Century, The National Judicial College, Reno, Nevada. Scholarships are available for interested applicants. Please email Irene Hart at ihart@judges.org for more information. 
  • ICM course calendar

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