Call for Article Submissions!!!

Trends in State Courts is an annual, peer-reviewed publication that highlights innovative practices in critical areas that are of interest to courts, and often serves as a guide for developing new initiatives and programs, and informing and supporting policy decisions. Trends is the only publication of its kind and enjoys a wide circulation among the state court community. It is distributed in hard copy and electronically. Submissions for the 2015 edition are now being accepted. Please email abstracts of no more than 500 words by October 15, 2014 to Deborah Smith at Abstracts received after this date are welcome and will be considered for inclusion in our monthly online edition. Visit the Trends in State Courts website at 

"Drunk Suit" Helps Demonstrate the Dangers of Impaired Driving

Ford's Driving Skills for Life program gives free driving education to young people. The program is meant to "train kids in skills they don't learn in driver's ed," said Kelli Felker, Ford Safety Communications Manager. The drivers don a few items to impair their senses and make them off-balance to simulate having a few too many drinks and then go out on a closed course with an instructor to see the effects. The suit is being distributed to law enforcement in the US, Canada and Europe in 2014.

Issue Brief #7: Happy Hour Laws

In a recent article the Traffic Resource Center looks at the different ways in which states restrict "happy hour" promotions in an attempt to prevent impaired driving and promote public safety. It illustrate that some states prohibit any practices which would encourage the excess consumption of alcohol, while some states do not permit vendors to offer alcoholic beverages at a reduced price at anytime. Other states prohibit free drinks or two-for-one specials, ban establishment-sponsored drinking games, and/or limit the amount of alcohol that one person may possess at one time.

Impaired Driving Risk Assessment: A Primer for Practitioners

This study conducted for the Transportation Research Board examines the profile and characteristics of impaired drivers, including first offenders in relation to repeat offenders. It also looks at the similarities and differences in the profiles of male and female impaired drivers. Instruments available to identify those at risk for impaired driving and treatment interventions available for those at risk are outlined. The primer concludes with research needs.

Road Safety Concerns Surround Oregon's Ballot Measure 91

Unlike laws in Colorado and Washington, Oregon's Ballot Measure 91 sets no limit on the level of THC in a driver's blood. Supporters of the approach say tests are so imprecise they could lead to wrongful convictions. Opponents, though, fear Oregon's proposal lacks the teeth needed to identify and punish drugged drivers. In Oregon, now and under Ballot Measure 91, it's up to officers to identify whether a motorist has been using marijuana. First, the officer on the scene conducts a field sobriety test, though studies have shown the tests are only moderately effective in detecting marijuana impairment. A 2004 study conducted by three Australian pharmacologists found that field tests had a success rate of 39 to 56 percent. With low levels of THC, the tests detected only 26 to 39 percent of impaired people. The next step is to bring in one of about 200 specially trained officers, who have passed a three-week training course, to conduct a rigorous 12-step test designed to identify subtle signs of drug impairment.

Smart Watches = Latest Device Poses Challenges to Road Safety

The UK-based Institute of Advanced Motorists is warning drivers of the potential risks associated with smart watches while driving. The latest piece of wearable technology from Apple will allow users to make and receive calls, check their messages and monitor their health while operating the device from their wrists. IAM warns that this could significantly impair driving performance by being a major cause for distraction and road 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 for more information. 
  • ICM course calendar

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Notice of new or upcoming articles, projects, symposia, and other traffic-related events is appreciated. We strive to develop and to keep an "Upcoming Events" section relevant, and up-to-date. When alerting us to articles published elsewhere on the Web, please include the URL. We cannot reprint articles from other sources without permission, and generally only provide a link.

Disclaimer: Opinions contained herein, as well as material appearing in external sites to which this publication provides links, do not necessarily reflect those of the National Center for State Courts or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Presence of any such material should not be construed as support by the National Center for State Courts or any of its associations, affiliates, or employees.

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