Demanding bail for traffic trials happens all across California. Let’s say you get a ticket for running a stop sign, but you know you didn’t to it. You go to court and ask the clerk or judge for a trial so you can put the officer to their proof. In most California courts, you will be asked to post “bail” before they will give you your day in court. Though flatly unconstitutional, courts from San Diego to Del Norte routinely force motorists to “pre-pay” the amount of the violation’s fine in order to set their traffic case for trial. We have always considered bail for traffic trials illegal and unconstitutional, and DMV lawyers usually advise their clients to refuse. Sadly, many motorists are unaware that charging bail for traffic trials is illegal, and they allow themselves to plead guilty to violations they may have beaten. The outrageous fines that can accumulate–coupled with the driver’s license suspension that often may accompany them–make this an access to justice issue. No less than the Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court agrees. On Monday, Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye asked the Judicial Council to expedite the creation of a statewide rule that make it clear that Californians do not have to pay for a traffic infraction before being able to appear in court.
A DMV hearing officer guilty of accepting $5,000 in bribes was sentenced yesterday to three months in federal prison. Alva Benavidez, 51, a Mission Valley branch DMV hearing officer guilty by plea in February in a San Diego federal court of one count of conspiracy to accept bribes, will serve six months of house arrest after her custody time. Benavidez was a hearing officer whose responsibilities included determining whether motorists accused of DUI could drive or not. She was accused of setting aside some suspensions and providing unauthorized temporary licenses. In exchange for those favors, Benavidez accepted bribes worth more than $5,000, including meals, designer purses and sunglasses, prosecutors said. She retired last year after the FBI searched her home and Mission Valley office. A DMV hearing officer guilty of such crimes is prosecuted in federal court.
Zero tolerance bans on drinking and driving are underway in both Argentina and Uruguay. Zero tolerance laws make it illegal to drive with any measurable alcohol in the body. In the United States, zero tolerance laws apply only to motorists under 21 years of age or on DUI probation. On April 29, incoming Uruguayan President Tabaré Vásquez announced he would seek to significantly reduce the permissible blood-alcohol level for drivers. Meanwhile, Argentina’s Interior and Transport Minister Florencio Randazzo said during a radio interview on April 28 that he intends to send a “Zero Alcohol” bill to Congress.
A recent study released by Taiwan’s Ministry of Transportation and Communications suggests women more likely in accidents than men, by 3.1%. The study was actually published a couple of weeks ago, and for the first time, cited numbers provided by the Taiwanese National Police Agency. Of the nation’s 7.23 million males with driver’s licenses, 10.2 percent had gotten into accidents. Of the 5.3 million licensed women, 13.3 percent had been involved in accidents. Women were also more likely in accidents involving scooters and motorcycles than males, but this difference was only 0.6 percent higher. Wang Jing-yuan, associate professor at National Chiao Tung University and a long-time analyst, who is involved in judging traffic cases, said that though women are in accidents a greater degree, male drivers are involved in more severe traffic collisions and deaths, as they are more likely to engage in speeding than females. Women, on the other hand, were more likely in accidents due to failing to notice other vehicles coming their way, failing to maintain safe driving distances with other vehicles, neglecting to yielding the right of way, not abiding by traffic signs and speeding.
A driverless semi is still years from production, but German automaker Daimler Trucks unveiled a working model today in Nevada. The driverless semi traveled (albeit with a driver steering) the length of the Hoover Dam. Nevada, which issued a full license for the truck, aims to be a national leader in driverless vehicles. “We are really showing that we’re at the cradle of innovation,” Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval said Tuesday after helping affix the state’s automated vehicle license to the truck. The license is valid and would allow Daimler to use the driverless semi to ship goods within the state’s borders. “We’re far from that. We’re just getting people inspired,” said Dr. Wolfgang Bernhard, member of the board of management of Daimler AG.
Child support suspensions of New Jersey driver’s licenses were challenged last Friday by a class action lawsuit filed in the New Jersey Superior Court. The suit challenges the practice of imposing child support suspensions of driver’s licenses on parents behind on support payments, claiming the automatic suspensions are unconstitutional and contrary to the “clearly expressed legislative intent.” “New Jersey is the only state in the country that suspends license in this way”, said David Perry Davis, a Pennington, NJ attorney who filed the class action civil rights matter.