Judging Traffic (June 2018):
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  • New: Ignition Interlock Report
  • Low-Speed Gas Bicycle
  • Drugged Driving Data
  • The Fifth of Six Video on Impaired Driving Issues for Judges
  • Massachusetts Impaired Driving Website
  • Drug-Impaired Driving: Marijuana and Opioids Raise Critical Issues for the States

Editor: Greg Hurley

New: Ignition Interlock Report

The Ignition Interlock Report was written by the The National Center for State Courts as a resource for  judges, court administrators, and policymakers with support from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). This report reviews the latest research on ignition interlock programs and how they are used from a national perspective (2013-2017). The appendix contains a detailed chart of each state’s ignition interlock program and a comprehensive resource list. It is intended to be a single resource that judges, court administrators, and policymakers can use to implement or improve an interlock program. The resource is also useful in preparing for presentations and in gaining a more well-rounded picture of ignition interlock use across the country. 

Low-Speed Gas Bicycle

The Supreme Court of Illinois rendered an opinion in Illinois v. Plank on May 24, 2018. Mr. Plank was operating a gas-powered bicycle on an Illinois roadway going 26 mph when he was stopped by the police. He admitted during the stop that his driver’s license was revoked due to a DUI. He was previously charged and convicted several times of operating a motor vehicle with a license revoked due to a DUI. As a result, the present charge is a felony. Illinois law allows someone with a revoked license to operate a low-speed gas bicycle. The code defines low-speed gas bicycle as a “2 or 3-wheeled device with fully operable pedals and a gasoline motor of less than one horsepower, whose maximum speed on a paved level surface, when powered solely by such a motor while ridden by an operator who weighs 170 pounds, is less than 20 miles per hour.”

Prior to trial, Mr. Plank argued that the definition of low-speed gas bicycle was unconstitutionally vague as a person of ordinary intelligence would be unable to apply the definition to a real-life situation. The trial court agreed and declared the statute facially unconstitutional. The Supreme Court of Illinois disagreed with the trial court. The case was remanded to the trial court for trial.

Drugged Driving Data

In April of 2018, the AAA Foundation released a reported titled, Advancing Drugged Driving Data at the State Level: State-by-State Assessment.  This report has some very interesting comparative data and is worth reading.  The executive summary to the report states the following:

This study assessed and documented current state policies and practices in all 50 states and the District of Columbia (D.C.) as they relate to the state-level recommendations listed in the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety publication titled Advancing Drugged Driving Data at the State Level: Synthesis of Barriers and Expert Panel Recommendations (2016).

Based upon legal research and responses to a survey, state laws, policies and practices were assessed to determine whether and to what degree they align with recommendations aimed at improving drugged driving data. State laws, policies, and practices vary across states and substantial progress is still needed.

While most law enforcement officers (LEOs) have been trained in the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests, very few have been trained in the “Drugs That Impair Driving” curriculum and the “Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement” (ARIDE) course, which is critical. The SFST training was developed for detecting alcohol impairment while the other two courses are for detecting impairment by drugs other than alcohol.

At the time of the review, 15 states reported they authorize the collection and testing of oral fluid for alcohol and/or other drugs and 10 states reported having pilot test programs. Most states authorize the testing of drivers fatally injured in crashes and surviving drivers only when there is probable cause. Most states also reported they have improved the implementation and utilization of the Drug Evaluation and Classification program. The majority of states do not expressly authorize electronic warrants, which reduce delays in collecting specimens from drivers arrested for DUI. Finally, 41 states reported that LEOs report observed behavioral impairment among surviving drivers in fatal crashes.

The Fifth of Six Videos on Impaired Driving Issues for Judges

The fifth of six videos produced by the National Center for State Courts and ABA Judicial Outreach Liaisons, supported by NHTSA, about issues in traffic adjudication has been released. The remaining video will be released at the beginning of July, 2018. In this video titled Alternative Warrant Systems, judges discuss alternative warrant systems that provide a faster ways for police officers to obtain a search warrants.  This is important in impaired driving cases because substances in the human body dissipate rapidly.  Although warrant systems are not created by the judiciary, this video provides important information about how alternative warrant systems work and the role the judiciary plays in those systems.   The first four videos in this series are available here.  

Massachusetts Impaired Driving Website

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has an excellent website that contains state laws related to impaired driving. It has statutes, regulations, court rules, federal regulations, selected caselaw, jury instructions, testing/devices and other sources. The resources are current and comprehensive. This is a good template other states could use to make their state's information broadly available.

Drug-Impaired Driving: Marijuana and Opioids Raise Critical Issues for the States

The Governor’s Highway Safety Administration “GHSA” released a report in May of 2018 titled, Drug-Impaired Driving: Marijuana and Opioids Raise Critical Issues for States. The report presents new research to examine the impact of marijuana and opioids on driving ability and provides recommendations on how best to address these emerging challenges. The report finds that in 2016, 44% of fatally-injured drivers with known results tested positive for drugs, up from 28% just 10 years prior. This report is very well done.

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