Marijuana Wins Big on Election Day

Over the last couple years we have put much of our focus on the impact marijuana legalization has had on road safety issues.  With that said, we will have more to discuss in the near future as proponents of marijuana legalization had some big wins on Election Day. With five states voting on recreational use, four states (Maine, California, Massachusetts, Nevada) voted in favor, while only Arizona rejected the proposition. In addition, all four states (Arkansas, Florida, Montana, North Dakota) voting on legalizing the use of medical marijuana approved their measures. Before this past Election Day, 26 states and the District of Columbia had legalized medical marijuana, while Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington state and Washington, D.C., had legalized recreational use of the drug. Click here for an interactive map detailing the status of marijuana legalization in states.

WV Supreme Court Looks at DUIs Occurring on Private Property

States have varying interpretations as to whether DUI statutes may be enforced when the offense occurs on private property. On October 26, the West Virginia Supreme Court ruled that a person can be arrested for DUI and have their driver's license taken away even if they're driving on private property. In a 4-1 decision, Chief Justice Menis Ketchum said the decision overturns a "plainly... wrong interpretation of our DUI statutes" by the WV magistrate and circuit judge who had concurred that their courts lacked jurisdiction to charge the defendant and revoke his driving privileges.

Blame apps? More on the biggest Spike in Traffic Deaths in 50yrs

In an article from yesterdays New York Times, writer Neal Boudette looks at the alarming NHTSA data on traffic deaths we have featured in the last two newsletters and takes a deeper dive drawing conclusions which seek to explain the reversing trends. Using a number of examples and commentary from transportation industry experts, Boudette correlates current statistics with increasingly distracted drivers. His point seems to be that while newer, automated cars featuring hands-free control like Ford's Sync, Apple's AutoPlay, and Google's Android Auto can improve driver safety. In contrast, older, less-automated vehicles lead drivers to use their phones as they drive to access apps like Waze, Google Maps, etc., in order to utilize the same sort of helpful onroad resources all the while increasing their level of distraction and posing greater risk to their safety and that of other road users.

Car Tech: NHTSA Sets "Quiet Car" Safety Standards

While the focus of this newsletter is primarily court-related traffic matters, we feel that occasionally it is important to feature news/data on traffic related technology given the rapid changes that are happening in the industry. This past Monday, November 14, NHTSA announced that it will be adding sound requirement for all newly manufactured hybrid and electric light-duty vehicles in an effort to help protect pedestrians. The new federal safety standard will help pedestrians who are blind, have low vision, and other pedestrians detect the presence, direction and location of these vehicles when they are traveling at low speeds, which will help prevent about 2,400 pedestrian injuries each year once all hybrids in the fleet are properly equipped.

Issue Brief: Public Highways/Enforcement Zone of Highway Traffic Laws

In light of the recent decision out of the West Virginia Supreme Court highlighted above, we would like to highlight one of our first Issue Briefs which took a look how several states handled impaired driving on private property. The article shows specific cases from four different states and offers examples of how various courts interpret similar statutes in different ways depending on the facts before them.

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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