Barry M. Searfoss Jr., a former state trooper, has been sentenced for a fatal crash that took place in Upper Dublin in 2012 that resulted in the death of a woman.
According to reports, the ex-lawman pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and driving under the influence of alcohol on Tuesday in a Montgomery County Court. The two-vehicle collision took place on a section of the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Upper Dublin which resulted in the death of 21-year-old Robin Williams of Philadelphia.
News Source: www.TheIntell.com
Rule of Criminal Procedure 574 (Forensic. Laboratory Report; Certification in Lieu of Expert Report)
This rule was adopted in 2013 to address the issues raised by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, 557 U.S. 305 (2009), that held that the 6th amendment confrontation right precluded presentation of laboratory reports without a live witness testifying in the trial. In Melendez-Diaz, the U.S. Supreme Court noted with approval the use of ”notice and demand” procedures as a means of permitting routine laboratory reports to be admitted without the expense of supporting the admission by live expert testimony while protecting a defendant’s confrontation rights.
This rule provides a ”notice and demand” procedure for Pennsylvania. Under the rule, the attorney for the Commonwealth may seek to admit a forensic laboratory report as evidence without the testimony of the analyst who performed the testing that was the subject of the report if notice requirements are met and no demand for the presence of the analyst is made. If the defendant makes such a demand, the analyst would be required to testify before the report could be admitted into evidence.
Nothing in this rule is intended to preclude a stipulation agreed to by the parties for the admission of the laboratory report without the analyst’s presence.
For cause shown, the judge may extend the time period of filing a demand for live testimony or grant a continuance of the trial.
For purposes of paragraph (D)(2) of this rule, a laboratory is ”accredited” when its management, personnel, quality system, operational and technical procedures, equipment and physical facilities meet standards established by a recognized state, national, or international accrediting organization such as the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accrediting Board (ASCLD/LAB) or Forensic Quality Services—International (FQS-I).
Rule 574. Forensic Laboratory Report; Certification in Lieu of Expert Testimony
- In any trial, the attorney for the Commonwealth may seek to offer into evidence a forensic laboratory report supported by a certification, as provided in paragraph (D), in lieu of testimony by the person who performed the analysis or examination that is the subject of the report.
- If the attorney for the Commonwealth intends to offer the report as provided in paragraph (A) as evidence at trial, the attorney for the Commonwealth shall serve upon the defendant’s attorney, or if unrepresented, the defendant a written notice of that fact at the time of the disclosure of the report but no later than 20 days prior to the start of trial.
- A copy of the report shall be provided to the defendant prior to or contemporaneously with the notice.
- Except as provided in paragraph (C), the report and certification are admissible in evidence to the same effect as if the person who performed the analysis or examination had personally testified.
- No later than 10 days following receipt of the notice provided in paragraph (B), the defendant’s attorney, or if unrepresented, the defendant may serve upon the attorney of the Commonwealth, a written demand for the person who performed the analysis or examination that is the subject of the report to testify at trial.
- If a written demand is filed, the report and certificate are not admissible under paragraph (B)(3) unless the analyst testifies.
- If no demand for live testimony is made to the use of the laboratory report and certificate within the time allowed by this section, the report and certificate are admissible in evidence.
- The analyst who performed the analysis or examination that is the subject of the report shall complete a certificate in which the analyst shall state:
- that he or she is qualified by education, training, and experience to perform the analysis;
- a description of his or her regular duties;
- the name and location of the laboratory where the analysis was performed; and
- that the tests were performed under industry-approved procedures or standards and the report accurately reflects the analyst’s findings and opinions regarding the results of those tests or analysis.
- An analyst employed by a laboratory that is accredited by a state, national, or international accreditation entity may, in lieu of the required certificate under paragraph (D)(1), submit a copy of the laboratory’s accreditation certificate.
- The analyst who performed the analysis or examination that is the subject of the report shall complete a certificate in which the analyst shall state:
Official Note: New Rule 574 adopted 2012, effective 2012.
This week, a hearing on legislation that will expand the installation of ignition interlocks in drunken driving cases will be held in Harrisburg. The legislation was proposed by a Chester County’s state senator.
The state Senate Transportation Committee will hold the hearing on Rafferty’s legislation, SB 1036, which will make the installation of ignition interlock mandatory in the vehicles of individuals convicted of DUI.
Sen. John Rafferty who is the head of the state Senate Transportation Committee is forcing the residents to contact their representatives in Harrisburg for supporting the legislation.
Last week, MADD President Jan Withers said, “Currently, Pennsylvania law requires ignition interlocks only for repeat offenders. SB 1036 will strengthen the law to require ignition interlocks for first-time convicted drunk drivers with an illegal blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or greater for at least six months”. 20 states have interlock laws like that in place, said Withers.
The repeat DUI offenses are decreased by 67 percent with the help of ignition interlocks said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Withers also said, “States that are enforcing all-offender ignition interlock laws, such as Arizona and Oregon have seen a reduction in DUI deaths by 43 to 42 percent, largely due to these comprehensive laws requiring all drunk drivers to receive an interlock”.
The law will be amended and it will change the current provision that requires the installation of interlocks in only those individual’s vehicles with drunk driving conviction and license suspension for 1 year or more than that. If the legislation sponsored by Rafferty is passed, the 1st time DUI offenders face mandatory use of the interlock devices.
Last fall, Rafferty said, “This will prevent people who are pulled over and convicted of DUI from getting onto the highway again and be able to harm someone. I am hopeful this will awaken first offenders that they may have a problem”.
An ignition interlock is a device which requires a breath sample for testing the BAC level of a driver before it allows the engine of the vehicle to start. If the BAC level is determined more than the legal limit of driving than the engine will not start. Breath samples are also required after regular intervals of time while the vehicle is in motion to prevent a sober friend from starting the vehicle by providing the breath sample. If the individual will not provide a sample or a sample BAC limit is over certain blood alcohol content limit than it will result in the sounding of alarms.
On Friday, District Attorney Tom Hogan said in a statement, “Drunk driving offenders, and particularly recidivist offenders, are somebody’s death waiting to happen. Tools like the ignition interlock will help us save lives. Drunk drivers will try to think up ways to get around the interlock device, but the game of adapting to stay one step ahead of criminals is the story of law enforcement”.
On Tuesday, the Senate Transportation Committee hearing will be held.
News Source: www.DelcoTimes.com
A warning has been given to all individuals not to drink and drive in the next couple of weeks because there is a nationwide crackdown on impaired driving and local police will be looking for drivers driving under the influence on the roads.
The annual holiday crackdown on impaired driving was started earlier this week by Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the Governors Highway Safety Association, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator David Strickland along with representatives from law enforcement.
In a statement, Foxx said, “With the help of our law enforcement partners, we’re sending a message across the country, today and throughout the holiday season – Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over”.
New guidelines on ignition interlock programs to help states develop and implement a breath-alcohol ignition interlock program were also released by NHTSA. It includes the installation of interlock devices in vehicles of first-time DUI offenders.
Foxx added, “With the release of our model guidelines for ignition interlock programs, we’re helping states improve their efforts to enforce safe driving among convicted offenders”.
All states order installation of interlocks in any way to keep DUI offenders from driving drunk and making people unsafe on the roads, according to the Detroit News, but in only twenty states and four California counties, installation of interlock devices is mandatory for drunk drivers. Interlock is an onboard Breathalyzer-type device to which the driver has to give a breath sample before the car starts and the device doesn’t allow the car’s engine to start if it detects alcohol in the user’s breath.
“States to adopt our new guidelines to protect sober motorists and ensure that individuals convicted of drunk driving learn from their mistakes”, Strickland said.
A research was conducted by NHTSA on drunk drivers and the result shows, “75 percent less likely to repeat the behavior compared to those who do not”.
In 2012, fatalities in accident involving drunk drivers increased 4.6% and claimed lives of 10,322 individuals. In 2011, the number of people who died due to drunk driving was 9,865. According to the agency, most of those accidents involved drivers with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.15% or higher which is almost double the legal limit of 0.08%. 830 deaths occurred as a result of drunk driving accidents during last year’s holiday season. Almost two of every five deaths (41 percent) that occur around New Year’s Day and Christmas (37 percent) were because of drunk driving, over the past decade.
In a struggle to increase alcohol-related road fatalities, the National Transportation Safety Board proposed decreasing the national limit for blood alcohol content from 0.08% to 0.05% last year.
NTSB’s stance was not supported by the NHTSA and MADD, NHTSA said it was “premature” to recommend a decreased in limit because it didn’t have data to support the conclusion that there would be a decrease in fatalities.
The campaign and accompanying law enforcement crackdown began on 13th of December and it will end on 1st of January. It is supported by $7.5 million in national ads on TV and radio. NHTSA’s “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” message will also be featured in a new public service announcement.
News Source: www.MSN.com
According to a Medical Daily report, 2 studies conducted recently showed that getting behind the wheel with a hangover can be as dangerous as driving under the influence.
Researchers from Utrecht University in the Netherlands and from the University of the West of England in the U.K. passed the study participants through a series of driving tests that mimicked highway driving in one study. The night prior to the tests, all participants had consumed an average of ten drinks.
There was no alcohol present in the system of any participant but they were observed driving erratically and they were also not able to focus on their driving. Their BAC level results were comparable to those individuals who drive with a BAC level of 0.05%.
Same researchers conducted a second study in which they issued driving tests to the participants. The tests were related to stop-and-go traffic. Researchers told that they observed delayed reactions of the drivers and the speed of all the vehicles were not consistent.
Researchers hope that their studies will create awareness about the risks and the dangers of driving a motor vehicle after a night of drinking alcohol. They said that individuals experiencing a hangover also face problems such as dehydration and sleep deprivation which can make driving dangerous.
Senior researcher at the Center for Accident Research and Road Safety at the Queensland University of Technology, Dr. Mark King said, “We have a law that’s based on blood alcohol concentration. There’s no real way of measuring how hungover someone is. So we’re a bit limited in what we can do. All we can really do is provide advice to people and say your driving could be affected just as badly as if you were under the influence of alcohol as when you’re hungover”.
News Source: www.FoxNews.com
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.