TRENTON – State Sen. Richard Codey is looking to expand the current state law to ban drivers from talking and texting on their cell phones while at a spotlight. This law will also apply to those drivers who are temporarily stuck in a traffic jam, at a red light or any other stop sign.
The bill was proposed to the legislation last week. According to Codey, under the current driving law, if you are drunk and at a red light, you will get a DUI. The new bill will also require the written driver’s license test to include questions on distracted driving as it is an as dangerous issue as drunk driving.
With this new bill, Codey aims to put the state of New Jersey in line with federal standards for the Distracted Driving Grant Program. His aim is that the state gets federal money to combat distracted driving. Since the current state law does not include distracted driving, the state is not currently eligible for the grant.
“At the end of the day, we want money to discourage people from driving while distracted,” said Codey. He does not know how much he could get with this bill, but a total of $17.5 million was reserved by the federal Department of Transportation last year to be made available to states which have distracted driving laws.
In June, a bill was signed by Republican Gov. Chris Christie that dramatically increased penalties for drivers who are driving while talking or texting on their cell phones. The bill which is expected to take effect in July will increase fines for a first time offense for drivers arrested for distracted driving. Fines for a first time offense will increase from $100 to between $200 and $400. Fines will be higher for repeat offenders of at least $400 and third time offenders will be fined at least $600. Third time offenders may also have their driver’s license suspended for up to three months as ordered by a judge.
Apart from the support being received by the new bill, a representative of the National Motorists Association in New Jersey, Steve Carrellas, was not happy about the proposal. He thought it would be counterproductive. According to Carrellas, there may be people who want to check their mobile phone on a red light for messages so they can pull over safely and respond to the email or message if it is important.
“This federal lust for dictating terms of a grant is counterproductive to avoiding distraction by cell phones,” he said. According to him, it is all about the money.
According to Codey, the bill has not been introduced in the Assembly yet and he is not sure what chance the bill has of moving in the Legislature. The two-year legislative session will end in a couple of sessions and if the bill has not passed both houses by January, it will have to be reintroduced. Codey really hopes to get the bill passed so the new, harsher penalties for using a cell phone while driving will take effect next year. Codey is looking to get it done before July 1 of 2014 so they have a huge campaign under way in New Jersey. According to Codey, the more people read about this, the bigger issue it becomes.
News Source: www.NJ.com
HARRISBURG – According to a Pennsylvania state court, a Cumberland County judge acted against state regulations when he overturned a five-year driver’s license suspension for a habitual drunken driver.
According to the Commonwealth Court ruling, Judge Thomas A. Placey should not have acted with compassion and should have upheld the suspension against the Maryland woman. The DUI suspect in the case claimed that she had been a crime victim and had been traumatized as a result. The woman said she had been kidnapped and sexually assaulted which lead to her being arrested for DUI three times within six weeks in mid-2011.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation appealed Placey’s decision voiding the five-year license suspension after which the dispute was taken to the state court. According to the Commonwealth Court, the five-year suspensions are mandatory for people with three DUI’s within five years.
Economic Developmental Authority approves loan of $357,000 to a medicinal marijuana dispensary in Egg Harbor Township
The NJ Economic Developmental Authority approved a loan of $357,000 on Thursday 12 September 2013 in an effort to support the medical marijuana law. The loan was approved for a medicinal marijuana dispensary in Egg Harbor Township that is planned to open in mid-October.
The dispensary, which will go by the name Compassionate Care Foundation Inc., will use the funds to buy equipment and cultivate marijuana in an area which will produce enough drug for about 1,500 patients a month. According to the CEO William Thomas, the funds will also be utilized to add 12 more jobs to the existing 7 which have already been created.
According to statistics provided by the state Health Department, there are about 1,233 registered patients in New Jersey that require the drug. However, now that the second dispensary is close to opening, more patients are expected to sign up.
Compassionate Care Foundation has allocated a large warehouse where the drug will be grown. The foundation is poised to become the second medical marijuana dispensary to open in New Jersey. Greenleaf Compassion Center in Montclair is New Jersey’s first medical marijuana dispensary which opened in December. It has served about 130 patients several times. According to Thomas, who is a former medical researcher, the second dispensary is expected to generate about $2.8 million a year in state sales taxes. He also said that the fact that the development authority gave a 15-0 vote legitimizes the business in the eyes of the public.
However, before the vote, Michele Brown, the authority’s president and chief executive emphasized the fact that the loan was not being financed by taxpayers. He also said that the agency had sought a legal opinion from the Obama administration to make sure there won’t be any legal issues later on as marijuana still remains an illegal substance. The loan was approved and lent to the dispensary at a 4.65% interest rate which has to be paid within 4 years.
The attorney who filed the lawsuit, Anne Davis, said that she was surprised by the authority’s vote and agreed that it was a positive development in the program’s troubled history. According to Davis, despite the 3-1/2 years that have passed since the law was passed, the lawsuit still has merit because only very few people can buy marijuana for medical purposes. The recent signing of a law eases some restrictions and makes it possible for severely ill children to use the drug which was restricted before.
After approval of the grant, Thomas said, “We know there is a demand by patients and this triples our production.” He also said that with the opening of the second medical marijuana dispensary, they can now serve about 1,500 patients a month as compared to the 500 patients that are being served right now. There is a huge demand which they will be able to meet.
“We know there is a demand by patients and this triples our production.”
David Knowlton, a founder and chairman of the Compassionate Care board said that one cannot get more mainstream than the Economic Development Authority. Knowlton is also the president and chief executive of the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute, which is a research and consumer advocacy group.
The NJ Economic Developmental Authority which approved the loan provides bond financing, loans as well as business and tax incentives to promote business and job growth. They also provide real estate development assistance in the state.
There are six other nonprofit dispensaries, which have been selected by the state, that have struggled to raise money or find a community which is willing to host them. However, since they have not been able to find the funds, patients and advocates are suing the state over the ‘governor’s reluctance’ to implement the law and allow ill people to get relief who need it urgently.
HOPATCONG – 40-year-old Pedro Carrillo of Rockaway was charged with DWI and a number of other offenses after he was reported to the authorities by a motorist.
According to police reports, the motorist, who was driving behind Carrillo’s vehicle, alerted the police when he saw Carrillo swerving the double yellow line.
The incident took place on River Styx Road and Carrillo also nearly hit a guardrail while driving drunk.
When police arrived at the scene, they saw Carrillo pulling his vehicle out the wrong way on Old Lakeside Boulevard, which is a one-way street. Officer David Kraus who was present at the scene also reported that Carrillo went through a red light too.
When Kraus stopped the vehicle on Crescent Road, Carrillo told him that he had no right to stop him. He also refused to perform field sobriety tests.
The Hopatcong police officer charged him with DWI and brought him to the police headquarters. The arrest took place at 8 pm Friday.
Carrillo’s hostility continued at the police headquarters also. He was asked to give breath samples which he refused. Police reported that he also refused to call someone to come and pick him from the headquarters and threw the cell phone he was handed in his cell to call someone.
According to Kraus, he even threatened to assault the officer after his release the next morning.
Carrillo faces multiple charges including driving while intoxicated in a school zone, refusing to perform field sobriety tests, refusing to give breath samples for testing, failing to keep right, driving without a seat belt, driving on a one-way street, driving the wrong way and disorderly conduct.
News Source: www.NJ.com
In New Jersey, a person can be charged with a criminal offense of assault by auto if that person caused an accident with injury while using a hand-held wireless telephone when driving. The criminal statute N.J.S.A. 2C:1( c)(1) states in part, “Proof that the defendant was operating a hand-held wireless telephone while driving a motor vehicle…may give rise to an inference that the defendant was driving recklessly.” This crime is a fourth degree offense that carries possible time in jail. And, of course, a driver using a cell phone while driving can also be sued for driving in a careless or reckless manner that caused an accident with physical injury.
However, a recent New Jersey Appellate Division ruling has taken the issue of texting one step further. The ruling in Kubert v. Best states a person that sends a text message to an automobile driver who gets into an accident can be sued. Specifically, the Court wrote, “[w]e hold that the sender of a text message can potentially be liable if an accident is caused by texting, but only if the sender knew or has special reason to know that the recipient would view the text while driving and thus be distracted.”
So, think twice before sending a text message in New Jersey if you know the person receiving the message is driving an automobile.
NHTSA urges the auto industry to continue research on in-vehicle systems
Washington – David Strickland, the head of NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), has urged major automakers to continue research on developing in-vehicle systems that will prevent drunk driving.
The NHSTA Chief hopes that advances in technology will help bring an end to drunken driving. He wrote to CEOs of major players in the auto industry on 8 August, 2013, telling then to keep backing research on in-vehicle systems that will prevent drunken drivers from starting a car. He also thanked those who are already helping fund the project and urged others to join the effort too. Detroit’s Big Three automakers are supporting the project and they were urged to continue their support.
The research which has been ongoing since 2008 got $5.3 million approved by the Congress in this budget year. The funds are spent on alcohol detection research and a slightly higher budget has been allocated by the Congress for the budget year that starts 1 October, 2013.
In his speech last week, Strickland said that the group is working with two auto suppliers with different approaches and they have shown to be “very, very effective.” However, Strickland said that it will take at least another five years before one of these new cars is available to the public, but “It will be available as an option by manufacturers, and I think it’s a real way forward.”
Strickland also shared some statistics in his speech, stating that approximately 10,000 people are killed each year as a result of drunken driving. The number of people who are injured in drunken driving related accidents is way higher, in tens of thousands. According to Strickland, the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety is funding the project to help the auto industry. At the moment, NHSTA and the group are working on a new generation for the next phase.
“A tangible result of that work will be demonstrated later this year, when a research vehicle including both touch-based and breath-based detection technologies is available for further evaluation. I have referred to it as a ‘moonshot’ for traffic safety with initially long odds but the potential for dramatically powerful results if we are successful,” he wrote.
The project named “The Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety technology has the potential to eliminate drunk driving in America” is being praised by safety advocated, particularly MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving).
News Source: www.DetroitNews.com
Credits: This news story was published at Philly.com by the Philadelphia Daily News Staff Writer William Bender on August 09,2012. Bender can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 215-854-5255
Lt. James McCarrick, who has been running Philadelphia’s DUI checkpoints for the past eight years, has seen and experienced hundreds of DUI arrests, and some incidents at these checkpoints have their own genre of cop humor. There is nothing funny about the arrests which McCarrick and other late-night officers have made as these DUI checkpoints really help keep the roads safe, but they have heard all sorts of excuses and explanations from drunk drivers.
“They’ll try anything. It’s pretty comical at times. It turns into a road show,” said McCarrick.
Studies have been carried out to check the usefulness of sobriety checkpoints and statistics reveal that these sobriety checkpoints help reduce alcohol-related crashes by about 20 percent, which means that every dollar invested in the DUI checkpoints can save anywhere from $6 to $23 in costs from alcohol-related crashes. In Pennsylvania, statistics show that the number of DUI-related fatalities have steadily reduced as the number of DUI-related arrests have increased.
The question remains if DUI checkpoints actually help make roads safer. Moreover, if a driver is stopped without probable cause, isn’t it considered a violation of the rights of the driver? People have different answers to these questions, even 23 years after a divided Supreme Court ruled on a Michigan case and provided the legal framework for today’s checkpoints.
Statistics do reveal that sobriety checkpoints help reduce DUI-related fatalities. In Pennsylvania, the number of DUI-related fatalities reduced to 404 in 2012 from 542 in 2004. During these years, the number of DUI arrests increased dramatically, from only 5,529 arrests in 2004 to 14,953 arrests in 2012. Pennsylvania is one of the 38 states that allows sobriety checkpoints.
Sobriety checkpoints are not conducted in the remaining 12 states as these states prohibit them outright. The state of Texas is one of these states which has determined that checkpoints are illegal under its interpretation of the U.S. Constitution.
A drug-recognition expert, George Geisler of the Pennsylvania DUI Association says, “Yes, it’s a momentary intrusion, but when you see the number of lives that we save from impaired driving and the crime we get off the street – the drugs, the guns and wanted people – the juice is worth the squeeze.” Geisler examined impaired drivers at the recent Port Richmond checkpoint.
Another research carried out is of the opinion that “saturation patrols” are more effective than DUI checkpoints when it comes to measuring DUI arrests per hour. With saturation patrols, police target a larger geographic area and look for signs of impaired driving rather than stopping drivers indiscriminately.
DUI attorneys and civil libertarians question whether checkpoints are a violation of the Fourth Amendment. The issue gained national attention when an innocent Tennessee college student posted a video on YouTube on July 4, of police harassing him. He was stopped at a DUI checkpoint and the video showed the police searching his car. The video went viral on social media sites and has been viewed more than 4 million times.
McCarrick however strongly opposes the constitutional arguments against checkpoints presented by DUI attorneys and civil libertarians. “We’ll get the old, ‘What, you got nothing better to do than lock up DUIs when murders are going on?’ and all that nonsense,” he said. He feels that DUI checkpoints help prevent thousands of drunk driving accidents, as thousands of people get killed each year nationwide by drunk drivers.
“If we lock up nine people that evening, we could’ve saved somebody,” he said. “We could have saved that individual from taking his car and wrapping it around a tree. So, to me, no matter what, it’s a positive.”
David Rudovsky, a Philadelphia civil-rights attorney, is of the opinion that officers out on patrol are more effective in curbing drunk driving. He says, “While I recognize the danger of drunk driving, I think the more effective and constitutional way to deal with that is to have officers on patrol, not sitting at a checkpoint.”
The truth is that sobriety checkpoints are often misunderstood. In reality, they are not designed to entrap drivers, which is the popular belief. A usual weekend checkpoint in Philadelphia from March through September, which is conducted by 18 officers, usually nets 8 to 13 DUI drivers. According to police data, these checkpoints are carried out in areas where drunk driving is prevalent.
According to Capt. John Wilczynski, who is the commanding officer of the Accident Investigation Division in North Philly, the overall goal of sobriety checkpoints is to create public safety and awareness. The checkpoint is to create a visual deterrent to impaired driving, so people will make other transportation arrangements if they’re going out drinking. “It’s never about catching people, but if they are impaired, they get arrested,” he said.
McCarrick says that the location of checkpoints is disclosed and at least in Philly, police will not pursue drivers if they turn before entering the two-block “chute” where stops are being conducted.
“If you see that sucker, you can just turn,” McCarrick said.
The stops are usually less than 20 seconds and officers ask a couple of quick questions to decide if the driver is showing signs of impairment or not. They will shine a light in their car and if they do not find any reason to detain the driver, they are good to go. Officers at the sobriety checkpoints will also hand a flier about the dangers of drunk drivers to all the cars passing through the checkpoint.
“Most of the people, especially when they’re sober, are happy to see you,” McCarrick said.
53-year-old Darren Wolfe of Royersford is of the opinion that “Checkpoints are what dictatorships do.” He participated in a checkpoint protest in Montgomery County last year and videotaped police pulling over drivers who turned around.
Organizations like the National Security Agency, Internal Revenue Service and Drug Enforcement Administration are also questioning the need for random stops. Wolfe, who is one of the privacy-minded drivers says, “When people have no privacy, the government can just stop you and ask you what you’re doing and take a look at you for whatever whimsical reason they come up with. We do not live in a free society anymore.”
News Source: www.Philly.com
DUI checkpoints are planned in Abington and along Buxmont border by the police over the weekend. Sobriety checkpoints in Abington will be conducted by the Eastern Montgomery County DUI Task Force whereas the Montgomery Township Regional DUI Enforcement Team will be conducting DUI checkpoints along Buxmont border on routes 309, 202, 463, 63, 313, 113, 611. According to police reports, DUI checkpoints will also be conducted on Upper State and County Line roads over the weekend.
Officers from Abington, Cheltenham, Lower Moreland, Upper Moreland, Upper Dublin and Whitemarsh townships form the Eastern Montgomery County DUI Task Force, whereas officers from Montgomery, Horsham, Upper Dublin, New Britain, Warrington and Hilltown townships form the Montgomery Township Regional DUI Enforcement Team.
During the enforcement campaign, there will be roving DUI patrols to look out for impaired drivers and officers will also be conducting sobriety checkpoints to catch drivers for impairment and other violations.
News Source: www.PhillyBurbs.com
NEWTON – According to officials, 39-year-old Michael Fertitta injured his family off-roading on a ski slope at the Mountain Creek ski resort while he was driving drunk. The accident happened on 4th of May at about 4:30 p.m.
A few weeks ago, Fertitta and his wife, 43-year-old Kelly, were charged with second-degree endangering the welfare of their child in connection with the accident. Fertitta was charged with assault with a vehicle also and additional charges were expected to be filed against him. Now, police charged Fertitta with DUI.
Fertitta has pleaded not guilty and is suspended with pay from the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office, his attorney James Pomaco told The Record. His wife also pleaded not guilty to child endangerment charges in Superior Court on Tuesday.
Authorities said that Fertitta’s BAC level was more than twice the legal limit when the crash happened. Authorities also told that the couple had been drinking at a winery before the crash. Their 2007 Jeep Wrangler overturned about 20 times down the steepest ski slope, ejecting their 6 years old son from the jeep. Their son suffered a concussion and Fertitta suffered a serious head injury. They all were taken to the Morristown Medical Center by a medivac helicopter for treatment.
News Source: www.NJ.com
According to the attorney general, the drunk-driving tester known as Alcotest that had replaced the Breathalyzer in New Jersey about 5 years ago will soon be discarded and will not be used for testing the BAC level of a drunk driver. He said in court papers that the reason for retiring of Alcotest machine is that the machine’s manufacturer, Draeger Safety Diagnostics of Irving, Texas, will warranty it for only 3 more years. By 2016, a replacement technology will have to be introduced and set up in place.
Till 2016, the state wants the Supreme Court to relax the controls on Alcotest that it set down in State v. Chun, 194 N.J. 54 (2008), the seminal ruling that found the device scientifically reliable and accurate as a proof in DWI cases. As the state needs time for developing and replacing the BAC level test machine, using and relying on the Alcotest machine will give enough time to the state to find a new machine and to dedicate its resources in producing a new BAC level test machine.
The information from the state that the Alcotest is discarding was revealed after 2 defense lawyers named as Evan Levow and Matthew Reisig filed a March 15 motion in aid of litigants’ rights. They claim that the online database of Alcotest readings, required to be maintained under Chun, is incorrect and incomplete. They also have a problem with the state’s fees for use of the database that range from $5 to $60 depending on number of reports requested. They both ask the court to order the state to execute a series of revisions to the Alcotest software that were mandated by Chun.
In a 62-page opposition filed on 31st of May by Deputy Attorney General Robyn Mitchell, he admitted that numerous discrepancies exist between the numbers in the online database and the raw data, noting the database’s weeding out of exceptional files. In detail, he explained the technical troubles the state had in developing the online database. According to him, the decision of state to discard Alcotest comes after it was unable to work with Draeger Safety to make programming revisions that will facilitate the uploading of data from machines in police departments all over the state to a centralized database as mandated in Chun. Mitchell said that a software developing company known as Ayoka Systems was hired by Draeger to work on that job and in November 2012, Draeger told the state that it was not agreed to continue employing Ayoka. Draeger wanted the state to do the work in-house or to hire any other software company but the state didn’t have the resources to do the work itself. The state said that it will have to give the work to any company, which will cause a delay of 6 to 9 months. Mitchell said that “In light of Draeger’s decision to stop supporting the existing Alcotest 7110 instruments at the end of 2016 and the state’s lack of a direct business relationship with Ayoka, the time that it would take [to make the necessary software changes] will likely be comparable to the time it would take to implement a new breath testing program. Given that the Alcotest 7110 will become obsolete at the end of 2016, it makes more sense for the state to focus its attention and resources on replacing the Alcotest 7110”.
The Supreme Court said in Chun that the state arrange with Draeger to make revisions to programming code in the Alcotest in accordance with directives recommended by a former Appellate Division judge, Special Master Michael King but the Mitchell notes that the Supreme Court said in Chun that nothing suggests that Alcotest reports generated on machines lacking the mandated updates are in any way inappropriate. In Chun, the court stated that “we agree with the Special Master that updating the firmware to provide this information in addition to that which it already provides would merely be beneficial”.
Draeger officials and Arlington, Texas-based Ayoka didn’t respond to a call from a reporter who wanted to get the information about the case.
A Cherry Hill firm head, Levow and a solo in Freehold, Reisig both refused to comment on the filing of the state.
Peter Aseltine, a spokesman for the Attorney General’s office said that “none of this goes to the reliability of the Alcotest device, and we have a secure, operating database”. He didn’t answer any of the questions about the case.
The head of a Cherry Hill firm who represented the amicus curiae New Jersey State Bar Association in Chun, Jeffrey Gold said that “I really do find it outrageous, the gall the state has in saying, not only are we in violation of this order, in terms of changing the software, for five years, but we want another three years because we’re going to investigate another [machine]”. “They’re in violation of the order and there’s nothing in their response that says, to me, a justification” Gold added. He said that the database requirement as an accommodation to defense lawyers was recommended by King, because Draeger does not allow non-government entities to get an Alcotest. The accommodation was made because defense experts cannot conduct experiments on the Alcotest to know if a particular defendant’s reading is an outlier, but they can examine the database. The design of the database and its use of Microsoft Excel hamper inquiries like these.
News Source: www.Law.com