Minnesota v. Bernard at SCOTUS

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in Minnesota v. Bernard (combined with Birchfield v. North Dakota and Beylund v. Levi) on April 20, 2016. The issue in the case is whether states can make it a crime to refuse chemical tests to detect the presence of alcohol in a person’s blood (often done via implied consent laws). This case stems from the Court’s April 2013 ruling in Missouri v. McNeely, which held that the natural dissipation of alcohol in the bloodstream did not constitute an exigent circumstance which would justify a warrantless blood draw to determine whether a driver was impaired or not. The petitioners will have 35 minutes to argue their case, while the time for the respondents is split among three parties: 15 minutes for respondent North Dakota, 10 minutes for Minnesota, and 10 minutes for the Solicitor General.

"U Drive, U Text, U Pay"

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month and to raise awareness NHTSA has partnered with state and federal agencies to combat distracted driving nationwide. The month kicks off with a national advertising campaign and law enforcement crackdown called U Drive. U Text. U Pay. “As we rely on our cell phones more and more in our everyday lives, we seem to be kidding ourselves in thinking that they don’t affect our driving,” said OTS Director Rhonda Craft. “Crashes are up. The scientific evidence is solid. The dangers are real, and they apply to all of us. We need to silence the distractions.”

NY Pushes "Textalyser" as the Breathtest for Texting Drivers

Although police are able to issue warrants to mobile phone networks for call and text logs, the new bill would allow the devices to be used in the immediate aftermath of a crash. Anyone who refuses to comply will lose their license. The bill is being called ‘Evan’s Law’ after Evan Lieberman, who died in 2011 when he was involved in a collision before which the opposing driver had been using his mobile phone. However, although it is hoped the law will discourage drivers from using their phones, it has proven controversial.

Issue Brief: Sharing the Road, State laws and Cyclists

In this edition of the Issue Brief series (brought to you by the Traffic Resource Center) we look at how laws impacting cyclists differ from state to state specifically looking at safe (distance) passing laws, distracted driving laws, cycling under the influence, and a lesser known law commonly referred to as the “Idaho Stop”.

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 Bluemer@judges.org for more information.

Traffic Issues in the 21st Century. May 16-19. 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. The arena of traffic-related legal matters is constantly evolving, and as such, it is necessary for traffic adjudicators to stay abreast of the newly emerging issues. Our Traffic Issues in the 21st Century course will delve into the most up-to-date, pertinent traffic topics that are appearing in our courts today. This years’ topics will include: the fundamentals of alcohol and drug testing; understanding addiction issues; marijuana legalization and related traffic issues; the Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST) information and demonstration; distracted driving issues; elder driver issues; self-represented litigants; and Commercial Driver’s License issues.

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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