California Eliminates Bail in Traffic Cases

California Eliminates Bail in Traffic Cases

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...
DUI Drivers in Colorado Slow to Catch On

DUI Drivers in Colorado Slow to Catch On

DUI drivers in Colorado have been slow to catch on to the state’s new felony DUI law, which made fourth offense DUIs a felony in the Centennial State beginning last month. The story of David Randall Nance is typical of DUI drivers in Colorado arrested under the new law. Colorado Springs police arrested Nance for DUI two weeks ago following a car crash. Nance had eight prior “DUI-related convictions” (whatever that means). “Give me my ticket and let me get out of here,” he said, according to officer Michelle Nethercot, who wrote his arrest affidavit. Nance later said that he had stopped drinking and was getting...
DMV Discriminates Against Transgender Motorists (Again)

DMV Discriminates Against Transgender Motorists (Again)

DMV discriminates against transgender motorists again, this time in Louisiana. (You may recall we previously reported a South Carolina teen who was prohibited from wearing makeup in her driver’s license photo. South Carolina’s DMV relented after the ACLU took the case.) It’s the same story here, just a different state. 21-year-old Denham Springs resident Alexandra Glover says the clerk told her she was trying to misrepresent her gender by wearing makeup. “You don’t look like a man,” she was told. The state’s rationale is the same that South Carolina used before realizing how ludicrous it was: DMV requires that the license photo accurately reflect the motorist’s usual appearance. The obvious problem is that DMV has no way of knowing what a motorist’s “usual appearance” is. When DMV discriminates against transgender motorists, there are remedies they can pursue. If you or anyone you know has suffered such discrimination, contact the ACLU or our office...
Driverless Cars Must Deal With Motorists

Driverless Cars Must Deal With Motorists

Driverless cars must deal with motorists, and it’s proving more difficult than expected. The New York Times reported this week one surprising problem encountered by Google’s autonomous vehicle project: the difficulty of interacting with human drivers. Apparently the computerized cars are not completely prepared for drivers who break the rules. One Google car, in a test in 2009, couldn’t get through a four-way stop because its sensors kept waiting for other (human) drivers to stop completely and let it go. The human drivers kept inching forward, looking for the advantage — paralyzing Google’s...
Georgia Hospitals Refuse Blood Tests for DUIs

Georgia Hospitals Refuse Blood Tests for DUIs

Several Georgia hospitals refuse blood tests for conscious DUI suspects unless the suspect consents to the test. In Georgia, as in California and most states, if police get a search warrant they can take blood from a DUI suspect by force against their will. What the police cannot do–as they are learning in Cobb, Douglas, Paulding and Cherokee Counties–is force a hospital to do the work. Now that several Georgia hospitals refuse blood tests even if the police have a warrant, it will fall to law enforcement to employ its own staff of phlebotomists to perform these forced blood...
0INK Vanity Plate Goes to Indiana High Court

0INK Vanity Plate Goes to Indiana High Court

An 0INK Vanity Plate was the central issue last Thursday before the Indiana Supreme Court. Greenfield police officer Rodney Vawter, represented in court by the American Civil Liberties Union, challenged the decision by the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles to revoke his 0INK Vanity Plate after three years of use. Officer Vawter said the 0INK Vanity Plate was a tongue-in-cheek reference to his job, but the BMV said it was...
DUI Bicycle Arrest Highlights Risk of Riding After Drinking

DUI Bicycle Arrest Highlights Risk of Riding After Drinking

A DUI bicycle arrest this week in Pennsylvania highlights the risk of riding a bicycle after consuming alcohol. Herman Ray Milke was arrested yesterday on charges stemming from a July 13 incident where he crashed his bicycle. Police waited for the results of his blood alcohol test before arresting him. State DUI laws usually prohibit riding a bicycle while intoxicated, either by including bicycles in the definition of “vehicle” for DUI purposes, or–as California’s Vehicle Code section 21200.5 does–by creating a special DUI bicycle arrest statute.  In California, the penalties for cycling under the influence are much less severe than for the corresponding DUI case, but a rider under 21 may have their license suspended. If you or anyone you know suffer a DUI bicycle arrest, call us and we’ll do our best to help you....
Apple’s Driverless Car Confirmed

Apple’s Driverless Car Confirmed

Apple’s driverless car project, code-named Titan, has long been a rumor in Silicon Valley. Last week The Guardian reported that documents confirmed the project’s existence. In May, engineers from Apple’s secretive Special Project group met with representatives of GoMentum Station, a 2,100-acre former naval base near San Francisco that is being turned into a high-security testing ground for autonomous vehicles. The Guardian obtained correspondence through a public records act request in which Apple engineer Frank Fearon wrote: “We would … like to get an understanding of timing and availability for the space, and how we would need to coordinate around other parties who would be using [it].” Though many companies are developing autonomous vehicle technology, it is widely believed that Apple’s driverless car project has the potential to lead the industry as the Cupertino company has done with mp3 players, cellular phones and tablets....
Economist Sees a World of Driverless Cars

Economist Sees a World of Driverless Cars

There’s an interesting piece in The Economist’s Science & Technology section predicting a life where autonomous cars rule the roads. Most of the predictions have been made before, but there are some new statistical projections, including the reduction of urban vehicles by 90% when car-making moves from selling to individual owners to selling to...
DMV Cracks Down on Fraudulent Disability Placards

DMV Cracks Down on Fraudulent Disability Placards

California’s DMV is cracking down on motorists who improperly apply for disability parking placards so they can use specially marked parking spots, the Los Angeles Times reported. Agency enforcement actions in cases of improper use of disability placards have more than doubled over the last year, when crackdowns were prompted mostly by citizen...
Teen Fatalities Decreased in Connecticut

Teen Fatalities Decreased in Connecticut

A new report in Connecticut indicates a significant reduction in crashes causing injury or death in which a 16- or 17-year-old was driving. The report credits the state’s graduated driver licensing program as a principal reason for the decline. Since 2004, there has been an 84 percent decrease in fatalities for 16- and 17-year-old drivers and their passengers and a 64 percent decrease since 2008. Despite the success of the graduated license program, DMV Commissioner Andres Ayala said statistics show more young people are choosing to skip the rules associated with a graduated driver’s license and wait until they turn...
Motorist Sues for Interpreter on Written Test

Motorist Sues for Interpreter on Written Test

An Italian immigrant is suing the Rhode Island Department of Motor Vehicles for refusing to translate the written driver’s license exam or allow for an interpreter. Federal law requires any agency receiving federal funds to accommodate folks with limited English proficiency. Apparently Rhode Island’s DMV will only allow the motorist to take the exam in English, Spanish or...