Judging Traffic (October 2018):
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Appellate Court Affirms ARIDE Officer Being Qualified as an Expert

The Court of Appeals of Iowa issued an opinion in State v Sanchez-Casco on November 21, 2018. Mr. Sanchez-Casco was charged with third offense driving under the influence. Factually, Mr. Sanchez-Casco was at a convenience store when he began acting in a bizarre and threatening manner. These behaviors included dangerous driving and driving around the parking lot in reverse. The clerk contacted the police. Mr. Sanchez-Casco was located at a second convenience store shortly after the call was received. The first officer on the scene contacted Officer Brewer as she had significant experience with impaired driving cases.

At trial, Officer Brewer testified she had investigated at least 500 cases of impaired driving. She was a standardized field sobriety testing instructor and teaches SFSTs to other officers. Also, she has certification in Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement or “ARIDE.” The Court of Appeals of Iowa noted, “She is also a certified drug recognition expert, which requires three-and one-half weeks of state-level training to achieve the state certification and an additional week of national-level training to achieve the national certification. As a drug recognition expert, she is trained to recognize intoxication from seven different drug categories.”

The trial court qualified Officer Brewer as an expert in the identification of impaired driving based on her qualifications. Mr. Sanchez-Casco objected to her certification as an expert at trial. On appeal he argued that the trial court abused its discretion in allowing Officer Brewer to provide expert testimony on his intoxication. The appeals court held that qualifying Officer Brewer as an expert was not an abuse of discretion and affirmed the conviction. The interesting thing about this case is that although there is a lot of case law nationally affirming qualifying Drug Recognition Experts or “DREs” as expert witnesses, there is not as much caselaw addressing ARIDE trained officers.

Almost Funny

The Huffington Post published a story on December 14, 2018 about Scottish bicyclist Dr. Dave Brennan, who is also a bicycling safety advocate. Dr. Brennan while riding his bike, chastised a driver that was talking on a cell phone. He told the driver, “It’s people like you that kill people like me.” The driver told Dr. Brennan that he can drive safely while using his cell phone. Moments later, the driver rear ended another car. Dr. Brennan captured the whole episode with a helmet cam and the video is embedded in the article. 

24/7 Sobriety Program Study

Associate Professor Kimberly Vachal, et. al. of the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute released a report tiled The Effects of Regular Alcohol Monitoring on North Dakota Impaired Drivers in September of 2018. This study is generally consistent with other studies on 24/7 programs. However, it did note that longer sentencing periods to the program reduce the instances of impaired driving rearrests. The abstract to the article states:

The 24/7 Sobriety Program is an intervention strategy mandating that impaired driving offenders remain sober as a condition of bond or pre-trial release. The goal is to monitor the most at-risk offenders in North Dakota and require that these individuals remain sober in order to keep roadways safe from hazardous drivers. As a component of the program, offenders are required to submit to twice-a-day blood alcohol concentration tests, ankle bracelet monitoring, drug patches, or urinalysis as a monitoring technique. If a program participant fails to remain sober, the individual is sent directly to jail. In 2013, House Bill 1302 – which mandated longer enrollment periods for repeat DUI offenders – went into effect. This project seeks to understand three areas: if before-and-after deterrent effects arise upon program enrollment; if House Bill 1302 had a stronger deterrent effect on program participants; and, if some factors contribute to recidivism more than others. Results show that participants significantly improve crash and citation metrics after enrolling in the program. Longer sentencing periods have stronger deterrent effects on DUI related citations. Individuals participating in the program more than once have higher odds of relapsing into impaired driving behavior. Additional treatment for these individuals may be appropriate as they likely represent the North Dakota driver population which has issues with alcohol abuse and self-control.

Distraction and Older Drivers: An Emerging Problem?

Kristie L. Young, et. al., recently published a peer reviewed research paper titled, Distraction and Older Drivers: An Emerging Problem? The paper studied Australian drivers and recognizes that people in that country are driving later in life.  Additionally, older drivers are driving more mileage than they had previously. The research notes that there have been a lot of studies addressing distracted driving, but they typically focus on younger drivers. The abstract to the paper states:

Distracted driving is widely recognized as a significant threat to the safety of all road users. Age-related declines in a range of sensory, cognitive and physical processes can, however, make older drivers particularly vulnerable to risks associated with distraction. While traditionally viewed as a younger driver issue, distracted driving among the older driver cohort is predicted to increase as future generations of older drivers drive more often, and for longer, and embrace technology in increasing numbers. This paper discusses current knowledge regarding why older drivers are particularly vulnerable to the effects of distracted driving and reviews recent research on older driver distraction engagement and its impact on their driving performance. Also presented, is an Australian case study of older driver secondary task engagement using data from the recently completed Australian Naturalistic Driving Study (ANDS). This case study examined patterns of secondary task engagement during everyday trips among 48 older (60+), middle-aged (43-49 years) and young (22-31 years) drivers. The findings suggest that Australian older drivers do engage in a large number of secondary tasks when driving; however, there is evidence that they self-regulate the type and timing of these tasks.

Study of Attitudes Towards Impaired Driving

The Washington Traffic Safety Commission released the results of a study titled Driving Under the Influence of Cannabis and Alcohol on December 2, 2018. The study was conducted by the Center for Health and Safety Culture in the Western Transportation Institute at Montana State University. Approximately 900 respondents between the ages of 18 and 65, all residents of Washington were surveyed online. The study has some interesting findings and is worth reading. It is embedded into an article in the Spokesman-Review dated December 18, 2018.  

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