Category Archives: Traffic Offense

New law allows some Michigan drivers to erase points

A new Michigan law will allow certain drivers to erase points from their record if they’re willing to take a class.

Someone ticketed for speeding or other offenses would still pay fines. But completing a driver-improvement course would eliminate the points and possibly keep insurance rates from rising.

The Grand Rapids Press says Michigan drivers with two points or less on their record would qualify with a letter from the secretary of state. The course would be taken online or in a classroom.

Sen. John Pappageorge, a Republican from Troy, sponsored the law. He says drivers will never improve if they’re simply hit with fines.

Commercial drivers are not covered by the law.

via Oakland Press

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Troy distracted driver law takes effect

Troy— Drivers driving in or through Troy today on the first working day after the holidays will have to put down their cell phones or bagels and clasp their wheels with both hands.

Police have begun enforcing the city’s new driving while distracted ordinance, which went into effect Saturday.

Anyone caught doing almost anything while driving may face fines from $75 to $200. Banned behaviors include texting, eating, playing with pets or using a cell phone while the vehicle is motion. Engaging in personal hygiene also qualifies under the ordinance.

Steering with your knees while noshing on a sandwich or applying mascara while driving is unlawful.

The fines carry no points, and Troy police insisted in a presentation to the City Council last summer that safety is the motivating factor.

Since November 2009, the city has collected crash data from driver and witness statements that identified distracted driver behaviors as direct causes of traffic collisions.

via Detroit News

Feds Launch Drunk-Driving Crackdown This Week

Washington— Federal officials want states to make it more difficult for suspected drunk drivers to refuse to take sobriety tests.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is kicking off the annual “Drunk Driving. Over The Limit. Under Arrest” winter holiday crackdown involving thousands of law enforcement agencies across the nation Monday at an event at a county jail in Arlington, Va.

LaHood plans to tout the “No Refusal” strategy that law enforcement agencies in at least nine states are using to prevent some suspected drunk drivers from agreeing to breath tests.

Through the “No Refusal” strategy, law enforcement officers quickly obtain warrants from “on call” judges in order to take blood samples from suspected drunk drivers who refuse a Breathalyzer test – often on weekends.

About 1 in 3 people killed in car crashes in 2009 was in an alcohol-impaired crash. Last year, 10,839 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes.

LaHood will also announce the department is spending $7 million on national TV and radio advertising to crack down on drunk driving, The Detroit News has learned. The campaign runs Dec. 15 through Jan. 3.

Nationwide, nearly a quarter of suspected drunk drivers refuse to take the tests, according to NHTSA data.

“Drunk driving remains a leading cause of death and injury on our roadways,” LaHood said in a statement praising law enforcement for using the “No Refusal” strategy. “I urge other states to adopt this approach to make sure that drunk drivers can’t skirt the law and are held accountable.”

According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data, about a quarter of all people pulled over for driving while under the influence refuse to take an alcohol Breathalyzer test.

“When it comes to drunk driving, we cannot afford to have repeat offenders,” NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said in a statement. “The ‘No Refusal’ strategy helps support prosecutions and improves deterrence, which means fewer drunk drivers on the road.”

States that have adopted No Refusal programs report more guilty pleas, fewer trials and more convictions. LaHood is to be joined by Strickland and MADD President Laura Dean-Mooney, as well as Warren Diepraam, an assistant district attorney in Texas who is a leading advocate of the “No Refusal” strategy.

Other states using the program include Louisiana, Florida, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Utah, Idaho and Arizona.

The latest NHTSA data show that the states with the highest refusal rates included New Hampshire at 81 percent; Massachusetts at 41 percent; Florida at 40 percent; and Ohio at 38 percent.

via Detroit News

Neil Rockind, P.C. is extremely experienced in handling all types of driving offenses, including drunk driving and driving under the influence of drugs. If you or a loved one is faced with any type of driving offense, or an investigation by any policing agency regarding such a violation, please contact Neil Rockind, P.C. at jmellas@rockindpc.com or call our office directly at 248-208-3800 to schedule a free consultation!

 

Writing Off Ticket Quotas

The battle over traffic tickets in Michigan continues to rage.

Last week, a bill passed the Legislature banning police departments from disciplining officers who don’t write up enough moving violations.

If Gov. Jennifer Granholm signs the bill, it would eliminate ticket quotas from being used to evaluate police officers. But experts said the measure, House Bill 5287, would have an impact only if it’s followed. They point to another law, Public Act 85, which has been largely ignored since it was passed in 2006.

“My guess is that some jurisdictions will ignore the new law,” said Steve Purdy, director of the National Motorists Association’s Michigan chapter. “I don’t think they’ll be foolish enough to put quotas into their employee handbooks, but when there’s revenue involved, municipalities will find ways around the laws.”

Public Act 85 requires municipalities to conduct speed studies on roads in order to set proper speed limits, although most communities have not complied, according to the Michigan State Police.

Meanwhile, Grand Haven Public Safety Director Dennis Edwards said he was placed on unpaid administrative leave two weeks ago because he told his officers to stop writing tickets on roads that hadn’t been studied under the law.

“I sent out a memo to the officers telling them not to enforce speed limits on streets that hadn’t been studied,” said Edwards, 60. “The law says there needs to be a study conducted in order for a speed limit to be valid, and I was afraid if we kept writing tickets on roads that hadn’t been studied, we were opening ourselves up for lawsuits.”

The same day the memo went out — Nov. 26 — Edwards was placed on administrative leave, although he called it a firing.

“I’m not being paid; I was told to clean out my office and turn in my uniform,” he said. “What would you call it?”

Edwards said he’s meeting with an attorney today “to see what my options are.”

Grand Haven City Manager Pat McGinnis would not comment, other than to say, “Our public safety director has been placed on administrative leave.”

James Tignanelli, president of the Michigan Police Officers Association, the state’s largest police union, which supported House Bill 5287, said some officers have been pressured in recent years to write more tickets to increase revenue. Tignanelli said he hoped the bill banning quotas would eliminate some of that pressure.

“When you have quotas, you take away the police officers’ discretion,” Tignanelli said. “The reason you’re supposed to enforce traffic codes is for the safe and efficient movement of vehicles but, unfortunately, we’ve gotten away from that in the past few years, and revenue has been the driving force.

“Some administrator sitting behind a desk looking at the budget shouldn’t be telling police officers they have to write a ticket for every car they stop,” Tignanelli said. “Sometimes, common sense tells an officer that a ticket isn’t the best course of action, but if there’s a quota in place, that usually isn’t possible. We need more common sense, not less.”

While the number of tickets written statewide dropped 17 percent from 2002, the earliest year for which comparable data is available, to 2009, statistics from the State Court Administrative Office show some communities have become significantly more aggressive about ticketing drivers in recent years.

For instance, in Detroit, the number of moving violations issued increased 45 percent from 2002 to 2009. The city of Wayne had a 52 percent jump during that period, while Hamtramck had a 56 percent increase. The number of tickets issued in River Rouge during that period rose 133 percent.

via The Detroit News

Neil Rockind, P.C. is extremely experienced in handling all types of driving offenses, including traffic tickets, drunk driving and driving under the influence of drugs. If you or a loved one is faced with any type of driving offense, or an investigation by any policing agency regarding such a violation, please contact Neil Rockind, P.C. at jmellas@rockindpc.com or call our office directly at 248-208-3800 to schedule a free consultation!

Teen Drivers May Face Restrictions

Safe-driving experts argue Michigan’s restrictions on young drivers are badly in need of updating following a recent rash of high-profile crashes.

They want lawmakers to pass a measure sitting in the Legislature that would amend the state’s graduated licensing law — the tiered licensing program for teen drivers usually younger than 17 — by restricting them to a single non-family passenger, and some legislators are hoping to do so by year’s end.

Studies have shown the crash risk is three to five times greater for a teen driver with multiple passengers in the car, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Yet Michigan remains one of just eight states with no passenger restriction for young drivers and is lagging behind other states, said Nancy Cain of AAA Michigan.

“Ours were the best in the country,” Cain said. “We need to strengthen them more.”

When Michigan first adopted its graduated license law in 1996, it was among the strictest in the country, she added.

Since then, most states have surpassed Michigan with more restrictive — and demonstrably safer — laws.

Opponents, however, say such a measure takes away what should be a parental decision.

“Parents are in the best position to judge their child’s maturity level,” rather than a broad-brushing law, said Ken Silfven, spokesman for the Secretary of State, which opposes the bill.

State Rep. Richard LeBlanc, D-Westland, the bill’s sponsor, said he will push for passage this year before it expires.

If adopted, it would also prohibit cell phone use by teen drivers, as well as extend the nighttime driving curfew for learners. Police agencies and auto insurance companies have declared support for the bill.

“If you take away that (passenger) element, … it’s certain to have an effect in a positive way,” said LeBlanc, who taught drivers education part-time until four years ago.

Fatal teen collisions fell

While the number of young drivers involved in fatal collisions fell by roughly a third in Michigan and the United States between 2004 and 2008, car crashes remain the leading cause of teen deaths in the United States.

In July, a texting-while-driving ban went into effect in Michigan with hopes it will reduce accidents. However, a study released this fall by the Highway Loss Data Institute found no reduction in crashes after driver texting was banned in four states: California, Louisiana, Minnesota and Washington. In a surprising twist, crashes actually increased in three of the states; those involving drivers younger than 25 increased in all four states — the largest in California, by 12 percent. The drivers were not complying with the bans, researchers concluded.

“It takes time to change your pattern,” said AAA’s Cain, who likened the texting ban to new seat belt laws in the ’80s and ’90s.

Young driver safety came into focus more recently after a crash last month on US-23 in Green Oak Township killed five people, among them three Okemos High School graduates. A week later, two 22-year-old Chinese graduate students died in a crash in Arenac County. The sole Okemos survivor has since been released from the hospital.

“These things happened all at once,” said Sam Goodin, assistant dean of students at the University of Michigan, where the grad students and one Okemos victim attended school. “It’s devastating.”

Though both drivers in the crashes were too old to have been limited by a passenger restriction law had one been in place, both crashes involved multiple passengers. A passenger limit, experts say, would heighten awareness of the potential distraction of having several passengers in the car. It would also give learners a chance to hone their skills under less risky conditions.

In Michigan, graduated license holders — usually those younger than 17 — are not allowed to drive unsupervised between midnight and 5 a.m. The pending House bill would extend that curfew to 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.

More significantly, it would prohibit a first-year driver from carrying more than one passenger younger than 21, family members excepted. Currently, there is no passenger restriction at all.

LeBlanc said that the exemption for family passengers has cleared much of the opposition among lawmakers. “We would not get it passed (otherwise),” LeBlanc said about the bill he introduced in the spring of 2009

via The Detroit News

We Win When Others Cannot

We received this email today from R.F., whom we defended [for 3 years] against a ridiculous OWI charge in the 48th District Court.

Neil,

I just wanted to take a moment to formally thank you for all of your efforts on my behalf throughout the trial. I cannot begn to tell you how much I admire your deep understanding and knowledge of the law…had it not been for the utilization of your skills coupled with the courage you displayed by fighting what many people considered a losing battle, I would have never been found innocent of the trumped-up charges. I look forward to hearing what (if any) options may be available regarding a future lawsuit. Thanks again for your time and I consider myself lucky not only to call you my attorney but also my friend.

Best Regards,

R.F.

People often ask how we do what we do. The answer is simple: Everyone is INNOCENT until proven guilty. R.F. is INNOCENT – it just took 3 years to reach that conclusion.

On behalf of Neil Rockind, P.C., you are welcome R.F. and best of luck to you in all future endeavors.

Colin A. Daniels