New DUI Laws Taking Effect July 1, 2015

Take a look at the laws which will take effect between July 1 and August 1, 2015 in different states across the nation. They include mandatory ignition interlocks for convicted DUI offenders, Felony DUI penalties, expanded judicial discretion, enhanced penalties for driving at a high BAC level or with a minor child in the car, Good Samaritan laws, and screening, assessment and treatment for juvenile DUI offenders.

No Implied Consent for Unconscious DUI Suspects

On June 15, 2015 the Superior Court of Pennsylvania decided Commonwealth v. Myers where it ruled that informed consent does not apply to defendants arrested on suspicion of DUI who are unconscious at the time the police officer attempts to warn the defendant about his or her right to refuse chemical testing. In so ruling, the court held that results from a blood test that a police officer took from a man who had been sedated at a hospital would not be admissible. "Here, [defendant Darrell] Myers was arrested for DUI and transported to the hospital, but was not given the applicable warnings until a later time, at which point he could not claim the statutory protection of Section 1547(b)(1)," Judge Paula Francisco Ott, who wrote for a unanimous panel, said.

States Cracking Down on Driver's License Fraud

On July 14, 2015 Jenni Bergal of the Pew Charitable Trust wrote and interesting piece on the prevalence of driver's license fraud and the impact facial recognition software is having on catching fraudsters. For a long time, it was hard for states to crack down on identity thieves and fraudsters, given their lack of manpower. But officials say that has no longer been the case since they started using facial recognition. “A driver’s license is a strong, dependable form of ID,” Slagle said. “We want to make sure the people who are getting the licenses are who they claim to be.”

Pennsylvania Expanding DUI Treatment Courts

Pennsylvania's York County courts systemwhich provides a program that aims to keep people who are arrested for drunken driving from re-offending has gained accreditation from the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts. The county's DUI Treatment Court joined 12 others in the state in gaining accreditation. Since the county launched its DUI treatment court in 2010, 150 people have gone through the program, and only nine of them have committed another crime. It is one of seven treatment courts in the county. 

Upcoming Courses at the National Judicial College

The following courses are offered by the NJC in Reno, Nevada in the coming months. A limited number of scholarships are available through generous funding from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Please contact Rebecca Bluemer at for more information.

Drugs in America. August 25-27, 2015. Reno, NV: This course will provide an in-depth analysis on the science behind drug addiction, and will offer practical solutions for the judge to manage these types of cases. The course will start with an introductory session on basic brain chemistry, and then will move to a thorough analysis of the physiological and psychological effects of specific categories of drugs. In addition, the course will provide practical skills in order to determine which type of drug(s), if any, a user might be under the influence of, and will offer different types of treatment options. The course will address several special populations, such as juveniles, those with co-occurring disorders, and veterans, and will provide examples of effective management and sentencing strategies for each group. Read more.

Impaired Driving Case Essentials. October 26-29, 2015. Reno, NV: This course is designed to provide judges with an overview of the impaired driving issue, and will provide insight into several pertinent areas, such as impairment detection methods, the pharmacological effects of drugs and alcohol on the human body, and effective sentencing methods. After completing this course, you will be able to analyze circumstances providing legal bases for stops, searches and seizures, and arrests; and will be able to analyze the admissibility of testimonial and physical evidence. In addition, you will be able to describe the principles of pharmacology in order to effectively evaluate expert testimony. The course will also include a trip to a local AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) meeting, in order to familiarize the judge with the inner-workings of this often-ordered part of a sentence. Finally, the course will conclude with several discussions on evidence-based sentencing practices, and tips on how to most effectively manage impaired driving cases.

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.

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