The National Transportation Safety Board would like to decrease the legal driving limit to one drink, lowering the legal limit on blood-alcohol content to 0.05 “or even lower.” The agency released its “most wanted list” on Wednesday, an annual wish list of changes it would make it would make across America if it could. Two of these proposals certain to stir controversy are the lowering of the legal limit and outlawing all cell phone use while driving, even hands-free technology. “When it comes to alcohol use, we know that impairment begins before a person’s BAC reaches 0.08 percent, the current legal limit in the United States,” the agency said. “In fact, by the time it reaches that level, the risk of a fatal crash has more than doubled. That is why states should lower BAC levels to 0.05— or even lower.”
Yesterday the Obama administration proposed spending almost $4 billion to speed the development of autonomous vehicles. The proposal, which requires Congressional approval, would fund regulatory efforts to have officials work with automakers to come up with rules and policies necessary to make driverless cars work. Automakers frequently cite the lack of guidance from the government as one of the chief barriers to their autonomous vehicle projects. “Automated vehicles open up opportunities for saving time, saving lives and saving fuel,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said on Thursday at the North American International Auto Show, an annual auto industry get together in Detroit.
In case you missed it, the California Legislature extended the IID Pilot Program until July 1, 2017. The pilot program–effective only in the counties of Los Angeles, Alameda, Tulare and Sacramento–requires every first-time DUI offender to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle. Elsewhere in California first offenders are not required to install an IID.
The “0INK” vanity plate battle waged by Indiana police officer Rodney Vawter has come to an end–at least for now. We previously reported on Officer Vawters’s efforts of to keep his vanity plate “0INK”–a tongue-in-cheek reference to his job. The Chicago Tribune reports that Officer Vawter lost the battle last week, with a unanimous high court ruling that license plates are not individual speech but government speech subject to regulation.
Bail in traffic cases has long been a bone of contention between defense attorneys and superior courts. Here’s how it works. A motorist gets a speeding ticket and wants to fight it. She goes down to the courthouse to request a trial, and the clerk tells her she must pay $370 “bail” in order to secure a trial date. This practice is flatly unconstitutional, but has been imposed by almost every court in California for years. They call it “bail,” but what they’re really doing is collecting your anticipated fine in advance. (It can’t legally be bail in traffic cases, because bail is authorized only for crimes that carry a jail sentence.) Following last May’s stern rebuke by Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye of the California Supreme Court, the California Legislature last week passed a law (and Governor Brown approved) banning the practice statewide. A judge can still require bail in limited circumstances such as when a motorist refuses to sign a promise to appear or if the judge believes the motorist will not appear for trial.