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 robot.
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 draws.
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 offensive.
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 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.
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 fleets.
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 complaints.
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 18.
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 Portuguese.
According to Forbes magazine, truck driving is one of the country’s ten deadliest jobs. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, teens are the country’s deadliest drivers. And Congress will soon put them together if it passes a new rider to the federal highway construction bill. True, teens are already able to drive big rigs within most states in the Union. Currently, however, federal law prevents them from driving across state lines in interstate commerce. The controversial provision was inserted in the 1,000-plus-page bill by the Senate Commerce Committee, chaired by Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.). “Under current federal law, a 20-year-old holder of a commercial driver’s license in New York City can drive a truck to Buffalo, but not across the Hudson to Newark,” Hill said. “Similarly, a driver in Philadelphia can drive to Pittsburgh but not down the road to Wilmington or across a bridge to Camden. This legislation sets up a pilot program (with restrictions that include a prohibition on operating more than 100 miles from the border of the licensing state) so that states could consider limited changes to current restrictions on younger commercial drivers that would also have to secure the approval of the U.S. Secretary of Transportation before they could go into effect.”
The Orange County Register is reporting that a former DMV employee last Friday admitted to accepting bribes in return for giving out California driver’s licenses. Jose Alberto Carrillo pleaded guilty to felony counts of altering public documents and computer access and fraud. He was sentenced to three years of formal probation and 40 hours of community service. The charges stem from two bribes Carrillo took in May and June of 2012 in exchange for giving licenses to people who could not legally obtain them. Apparently prosecutors objected to the sentence as inadequate.
Thanks to CBS News for this item, originally reported by Univision in 2013. In 1988, California’s DMV issued a driver’s license to Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman under his “Max Aragon” alias. The license showed the Sinaloa drug cartel leader’s picture, height, age and his alleged Los Angeles address.