Judging Traffic (January 2018): Oklahoma Impaired Driving Law Found Unconstitutional; Georgia's Hands-Free Legislation; Big Brother on Wheels; Flying Cars...
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Oklahoma Impaired Driving Law Found Unconstitutional

The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled in Hunsucker v. Fallin on December 19, 2017, that Oklahoma's new Impaired Driving Elimination Act 2 was unconstitutional. In November's newsletter, we saw that the Oklahoma Supreme Court stayed implementation of the law until it could conduct a full review on the merits. The law would have would have criminalized refusal of a breath test after an arrest, created a diversion program for all first-time DUI offenders, and required installation of an ignition interlock for all DUI offenders. However, the petitioners in this case (a group of attorneys) challenged the constitutionality of the law, saying that it denied citizens of the right to due process. The court ruled that the petitioners had standing to challenge the law and that multiple provisions of the law violated multiple provisions of the Oklahoma Constitution, including the due process clause and the single subject rule. Furthermore, the court ruled that the provisions of the law that did not violate the state constitution were not severable from the provisions that were held to be unconstitutional. As a result, the entire law was found to be unconstitutional. You can read the full opinion of the court here.

Georgia Aims to Become a Hands-Free State

Georgia State Representative John Carson has introduced a bill that would create a hands-free driving law for the state of Georgia. The law would allow drivers to touch their phones once to start a call and once to end it, but prohibit any additional touches. Any other actions on the phone, such as using the phone for navigation, would have to be done hands-free. The bill would also raise the amount of fines and the amount of points incurred because of distracted driving citations, and would make the penalties for manslaughter or serious bodily injury the same as the state's alcohol-impaired driving laws. You can read the full text of the bill here, as well as track its status in the legislature.

Big Brother on Wheels

The Washington Post ran an article on Monday, January 15, discussing how almost all new cars collect a wide swath of consumer data, often pursuant to an authorization buried deep within the terms and conditions of the purchase agreement for the vehicle. The article raises numerous privacy concerns for tens of millions of people, citing a figure that 78 million cars on the road have a data connection that allows car manufacturers to collect data (often real-time data) from the vehicles they sell. By 2021, approximately 98 percent of new cars will have similar data collection systems in them. Data collected by automotive companies is largely unregulated, though the article says that companies have been largely sensitive thus far to the privacy concerns of their consumers. To read the article, click here.

Car Crashes Into Second Floor of Dentist Office

Santa Ana, California police responded to a car crash on January 14. When they arrived at the scene, they found a white Nissan sedan sticking out of the second floor of a local dentist office. Subsequent video showed that the driver hit a median, propelling the car airborne, and narrowly missed colliding with a bus before crashing into a building. The driver subsequently admitted to using narcotics prior to the crash. (Shocking, I know.) For more about the story--including pictures and video of the crash--see this article from ABC News.

NADCP Webinar

NADCP's National Center for DWI Courts is holding a webinar next week entitled Supervising the Impaired-Driving Population Through Use of Technology. The presentation will discuss technology used to monitor the impaired driving population including the type of technology currently available, the evolution of technology, and how technology is used to supervise impaired driving offenders. The presentation will also examine the research conducted to identify the effectiveness of various types of technology, and review public opinion regarding the role technology plays in supervising impaired-driving offenders to ensure public safety. The webinar is next Wednesday, January 24th, and will last from 2:00-3:30 PM. You can register for the webinar here; you must register in order to attend.

NCSC Traffic Resources

If you are not familiar with our Traffic Resource Center for Judges, we invite you to take a few minutes to browse the website here. We also still have physical copies of our 2017 Traffic Issue Brief Compendium, which may be acquired by emailing Greg Hurley at ghurley@ncsc.org.

Upcoming Courses at the National Judicial College

The following courses are offered by the National Judicial College in Reno, Nevada, in the coming year. A limited number of scholarships are available through generous funding from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Please contact Katheryn Yetter at yetter@judges.org or (775) 327-8269 for more information.

FMCSA National Webcast Series (online webcasts; free)

  • Your Role in Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety - February 7, 2018, 10 AM PST
  • Partners in CMV Safety: The Traffic Court and the Administrative Adjudicator - April 4, 2018, 12 PM PST

Ethically Adjudicating CDL/CMV Cases for Traffic Judges (various dates; online; free) This webcast will answer: (1) What constitutes a “conviction” under federal regulations? (2) What does “masking” mean? (3) Why Federal law prohibits the “masking” of CDL violations? NJC’s webcast will provide you with guidance on handling these technical and troublesome cases. Dates vary by state.

Drugged Driving Essentials (May 22-24, 2018; Reno, NV) Unlike alcohol-impaired driving, drugged driving has no bright line test for impairment. Drugged driving cases require a judge to utilize a variety of judicial tools to effectively adjudicate these cases. In addition to the ability to determine which kinds of drugs an individual may be using, it is important to know how these drugs affect the individual, and may impair their ability to function. It is also imperative that a judge knows how to effectively craft sentences, which include treatment options, in order to provide a participant with the most beneficial mode of recovery.

Drugs in America Today: What Every Judge Needs To Know (June 4-6, 2018; Las Vegas, NV) With opiate addiction at epidemic levels in both urban and rural America, the NJC has crafted a new course that focuses on the neurology of addiction with an emphasis on heroin and painkillers. This course will provide an in-depth analysis of the science behind addiction and will offer practical solutions for the judge to manage all case types affected by drug use.

Traffic Issues in the 21st Century (October 8-11, 2018; Reno, NV) Judges are facing more complex traffic issues as the law and technology progress. This course is designed to provide an overview of current traffic laws and technological trends and their applications to the judiciary. After this course, participants will be able to: improve public perception of the courts; manage and adjudicate fairly and efficiently; identify the behaviors that impair safe driving; explain the basic provisions relating to commercial motor vehicle laws and regulations; identify key issues associated with special driving populations, including younger and older drivers; summarize new technology and practices used in traffic law enforcement, adjudication and sentencing; and fully understand cultural diversity issues, including racial profiling.

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