Judging Traffic (May 2019)
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SCOTUS Oral Argument in Wisconsin Case

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in April in the case of Mitchell v. Wisconsin. At issue was the question of whether a statute authorizing a blood draw from an unconscious motorist provides an exception to the Fourth Amendment warrant requirement. A transcript of the oral argument can be found here while audio can be found here. The justices asked questions in several areas such as

1) whether the fact that a driver was unconscious, and therefore unable to object to the blood draw, was relevant to "consent" and the ability to withhold consent

2) the relationship between implied consent laws that allow for such unconscious blood draws and the notion that "ignorance of the law is no excuse".

3) the ease or lack thereof with which a warrant could be obtained for a blood draw from an unconscious driver

4) whether the exercise of the privilege of driving on roads can allow a state, prior to issuing a driver's license, to require a person to sign a consent to draw blood

At one point Justice Stephen Breyer noted, "The law in this area is filled with complication."

A decision is expected in June.

Congressional Research Service Report on Marijuana Use and Highway Safety

The Congressional Research Service in May released a review of the growing legal use of marijuana and impacts on road safety. The report provides an overview of current conditions and references several reports by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the Governors Highway Safety Association as well as academic studies. Of particulate note is the examination of the various tests for marijuana use and the list of state laws (as of February 2018) that address THC levels as they relate to impaired driving.

Examination of 24/7 Sobriety Programs On Criminal Activity

A report released by the RAND Corporation finds that 24/7 sobriety programs have an impact in reducing a person's likelihood for being arrested on any criminal charge and/or having their probation revoked. The researchers examined the full criminal histories of 16 thousand South Dakota residents arrested for a second or third drunk driving offense from 2004 to 2011. The probability a 24/7 participant was rearrested or had probation revoked 12 months after being arrested for driving under the influence was 49% lower than that of nonparticipants. There also appear to be similar long-term benefits (35% lower probability of arrest/probation revoked after 24 months after arrest & 26% lower probability after 36 months).

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