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New York Traffic Violations Legal Blog

Tiger Woods arrest raises issue of DUI charges based on prescription drug impairment, P.1

New York readers may have heard that golf legend Tiger Woods was arrested at the end of May near his home in Florida and later charged with driving under the influence. According to police records, Woods had been asleep at the wheel with the car running, two of his tires flat, and damage to his vehicle.

Police based the DUI citation on Woods’ condition and appearance, as well as the fact that his speech was slurred and his lack of awareness of where he was, though he did apparently also ask how far he was from his home.  One interesting aspect of the case, though, is that Woods was not intoxicated with alcohol. 

New York Court of Appeals allows unlimited license plate scanning

Drivers cannot reasonably expect any privacy in their license plate numbers, according to New York's highest court. After considering the question for the first time, the court held that law enforcement may use license plate scanners at will -- even when no one is suspected of any crime.

Police agencies across the state have been using the technology for years, although neither the courts nor the legislature had officially sanctioned its use. For example, according to the ACLU, police in Rhinebeck, population 7,548, scanned 164,043 license plates over the course of just three months in 2011. A total of eight were linked in any way to suspicious activity.

Increase in State Police presence in NYC results in drastic increase of traffic tickets

Traffic tickets are presumably issued in order to ensure motorists follow traffic rules and regulations, to make the road safer for everybody. The issuance of traffic tickets is not always based purely and simply on these motives, though. Behind the scenes, there can be political, administrative, and even personal factors at play in the issuance of a traffic ticket.

A recent example of this is the increase in State Police-issued traffic tickets in New York, According to records from the New York State Police, officers issued traffic tickets at an incredibly higher rate in the first handful of months this year compared to previous years. Whereas no tickets were issued in 2014, four tickets were issued in 2015, and 1,692 were issued in 2016, a total of 14,542 were already issued in the first four months of 2017. 

Work with experienced attorney to challenge NY distracted driving tickets, P.2

Last time, we looked briefly at New York law concerning the use of mobile telephones while driving, including the presumption concerning holding a mobile telephone and exceptions to the rule. In addition to prohibiting talking on cell phones while driving, New York law also prohibits the use of portable electronic devices while driving, which refers to texting, surfing the Internet, checking email, and so on.

Texting and other use of electronic devices is prohibited while a vehicle is in motion for all drivers, and commercial vehicle drivers are also prohibited from using these devices while they are temporarily stationary due to traffic, stoplights, or other momentary delays. 

Work with experienced attorney to challenge NY distracted driving tickets, P.1

Previously, we began looking at the topic of distracted driving, and specifically the challenges officers face in enforcing distracted driving laws. These challenges have not, however, stopped authorities from aggressive, ongoing efforts to enforce these laws. Of the 15,000 tickets written in the recent five-day sweep we mentioned last time, around 2,000 were for distracted driving.

Certainly, distracted driving is a problem and there need to be efforts to fight against it. On the other hand, it is also important that enforcement efforts be fair to motorists. Sometimes, in attempting to aggressively fight and enforce laws against distracted driving, authorities issue distracted driving tickets unfairly. 

Enforcement of distracted driving laws remains a challenge for officers

Distracted driving, as readers know, is a major concern when it comes to roadway safety nowadays. The use of smartphones and other mobile devices is certainly very prevalent, and public safety education has done little to ensure drivers make safe decisions. States have also passed measures to combat distracted driving as well, but the effectiveness of these measures is questionable.

Here in New York, all drivers are prohibited from using portable electronic devices, which includes hand-held mobile phones, personal digital assistants, handheld devices with mobile data access, laptops, pagers, messaging devices, portable computing devices and electronic games. E-mailing, texting, Internet browsing, receiving or sending images, and playing games are all prohibited. 

What penalties can drunken driving defendants face in NY? And how can an attorney help? P.2

Previously, we began looking at the penalties that drunken driving can face in the state of New York. As we noted, the specific penalties imposed on an offender—both in terms of jail time and fines, as well as license suspension or revocation—depend upon the specific charges against the driver and his or her criminal history.

Another factor to consider as well when it comes to drunken driving penalties is that additional penalties can be imposed when there are multiple convictions within certain periods of time. For instance, more severe penalties can be imposed in cases where the offender has had multiple drug or alcohol violations within a 25-year period of time. 

What penalties can drunken driving defendants face in NY? And how can an attorney help? P.1

In drunken driving cases where it is not possible to have the case dismissed or charges thrown out, the goal is to hold the state to its full burden in proving the alleged charges, and to minimize the penalties imposed in the case. The specific penalties involved in drunken driving cases depend on several factors.

First of all, there are the specific criminal charge to consider, which depends on level of intoxication, driver age, aggravating circumstances, and whether or not there was a test refusal. A driver who refuses to take a breath, urine or blood test can, as readers may know, face additional penalties that drivers who submit to chemical testing do not. 

Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero program puts pressure on authorities to target “reckless” drivers, P.2

In our last post, we began looking at Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero program and the intentional focus the program has put on reckless and negligent drivers. As we noted last time, the high vision of the program and the financial backing behind it puts pressure on law enforcement take an aggressive approach to the problem of traffic accidents.

A little bit of that approach can be seen in a recent article covering the topic, which highlights the concern officers have with even the smallest traffic infractions. Particular areas of focus for officers are things like cell phone use, especially texting while driving, improper turns, seat belt violations, and failure to yield to pedestrians. 

Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero program puts pressure on authorities to target “reckless” drivers

Back in 2014, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced what is known as Vision Zero, a program created to reduce traffic fatalities. The program, which is partly based on a Swedish model, is aimed especially at addressing pedestrian deaths. The idea is that pedestrian deaths are better understood as the product of failed street design rather than mistakes in judgment.

The program met with some initial success, but an increasing number of pedestrian fatalities have prompted de Blasio’s expansion of the program. Apparently, the largest portion of the new money being funneled into the program will go toward redesigning streets, spreading the use of features like pedestrian islands, signals, brighter lights, pedestrian ramps, speed cameras, crossing signs and additional turning lanes.  

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