An Oregon man attempted to escape conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) by claiming he was “sleep driving” and not responsible for his actions. On Wednesday, a three-judge panel of the state Court of Appeals shut down the argument as utterly irrelevant. Even if what he said were true, driving while drunk and asleep would still be a crime.
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Advocates of diverting tax money raised from motorists on mass transit insist doing so is essential for protecting the environment. Data published in August by the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) show that buses outside London produced an average of 221 grams per kilometer of greenhouse gas emissions. This is more than the figure given for small gasoline-powered cars, 210. Small and medium diesel-powered cars also beat the bus with scores of 172 and 215.
“Perhaps those who criticize lone car drivers should turn their attention to empty off-peak buses instead,” Association of British Drivers environment spokesman Paul Biggs said in a statement. “Although buses provide an important public service, even London can only manage an average occupancy of around fifteen passengers. Modern efficient cars outperform buses not just for CO2 emissions, but for genuine pollutants as well.”
Many Florida municipalities now regret jumping the gun and installing red light cameras before the state legislature authorized their use in 2010. The Hallandale Beach city commission will vote later today to approve a settlement of $375,566 to be repaid to vehicle owners who were mailed tickets before the program was actually legal. American Traffic Solutions (ATS), which controlled the program, will pay $43,221 — its proportional share of the amount.
Motorists searched during a traffic stop may find their iPhone data electronically grabbed by police in ways that would not be possible or acceptable with written material. Some police departments, including the Michigan State Police, are equipped with a mobile forensics device able to extract images, videos, text messages and emails from smartphones. In some cases, the device is able to bypass password protection. Several states have been reluctant to curtail law enforcement access to this information.
Residents of Austin, Texas may soon have the power to issue parking tickets by taking a few photographs of someone else’s car with their smartphones. A unanimous council voted on October 20 to explore the concept of deputizing vigilante meter maids using an iPhone app. Disabled advocates pushed the program at the council meeting in the hopes of guaranteeing easier parking. They were joined by others who were just interested in writing the $511 tickets.
A Missouri appellate court judge with family ties to the red light camera industry yesterday led the charge to save photo ticketing programs from legal attack. In a per curiam decision, Eastern District Presiding Judge Robert G. Dowd Jr and two colleagues upheld the ticket issued by American Traffic Solutions (ATS) to motorist Mary Nottebrok in Creve Coeur on August 11, 2009.
“Ordinance Number 315.140 did not prohibit ‘running a red light;’ rather, Ordinance Number 315.140 prohibited the presence of a vehicle in an intersection when the traffic control signal for that intersection was emitting a steady red signal for the direction of travel or orientation of the vehicle,” the decision stated in defense of Creve Coeur’s photo enforcement ordinance.
A report released last week by the engineering firm Gibson Traffic Consultants (GTC) found the use of red light cameras unjustified in Bellingham, Washington. The study gathered collision data from the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and the city to conclude the use of an automated ticketing machine at the intersection of Guide Meridian Road at Telegraph Road was unwarranted.
After news spread that paying a red light camera tickets in Los Angeles County, California is optional, the average number of people paying citations declined by nearly a third. According to an analysis of Los Angeles County Superior Court payment transaction count and revenue data by TheNewspaper, the state, Los Angeles County, municipalities and photo enforcement vendors are losing $1 million per month following the revelation that there is no penalty for tossing a mailed ticket in the trash. The news broke as part of the hearing process while Los Angeles municipal officials debated whether to shut off automated ticketing machines in the City of the Angels.
“What we have here is truly a voluntary citation program,” Los Angeles Police Commissioner Alan J. Skobin said at a June 7 meeting. “It’s voluntary because there’s no teeth in it and there’s no enforcement mechanism.”
An estimated sixty million Americans live in a jurisdiction monitored by an automated ticketing machine. According to a report released today by the left-leaning US Public Interest Research Group (US PIRG), the trend of privatizing law enforcement raises a number of issues that put the public in those areas at risk.
Port Lavaca, Texas is refusing to release documents that might reveal whether additional motorists have received automated tickets for running a green light. Yesterday, Byron Schirmbeck, director of saferbaytown.com, filed a formal complaint with Calhoun County District Attorney Dan Heard over the city’s refusal to comply with the terms of the state open records statute that generally requires the disclosure of public documents within ten days.
Add Colorado Springs, Colorado to the growing list of cities having second thoughts about the use of red light cameras. On Tuesday, interim Police Chief Pete Carey discussed his intention to drop the year-old program as the contract with vendor American Traffic Solutions (ATS) expires at the end of the year. The mayor, who asked the previous chief to step down, is behind the move.
“The photo red-light enforcement program did not meet our expectations,” Mayor Steve Bach said in a statement. “It is as simple as that. If a safety program can’t be shown to improve safety, it ought to be stopped.”
Georgia’s introduction of high occupancy toll (HOT) lanes on Interstate 85 at the beginning of the month has already turned into a public relations disaster. During rush hour, motorists found themselves stranded in the general purpose lanes as the adjacent HOT lane — constructed and maintained with their tax dollars — were essentially unused. Drivers balked at paying the stiff $5.40 entrance tax for permission to enter, leaving the existing lane space to go to waste. Governor Nathan Deal (R) intervened swiftly on October 6 to order the State Road and Tollway Authority (SRTA) to lower the cost of using the toll lane.