Posts Tagged ‘traffic laws’

After a mechanic took it on an unauthorized ride, Chicago impounded her car. And then….

Her car was in the shop for work when a mechanic drove it on an expired license. What the city of Chicago did to her then shouldn’t happen to anyone [Elliott Ramos, WBEZ/ProPublica, Institute for Justice on its suit representing Veronica Walker-Davis and Jerome Davis, earlier]

An especially outrageous angle from an earlier Ramos/WBEZ story, quoted in our earlier coverage: “Chicago has impounded and sold off nearly 50,000 cars for unpaid tickets since 2011. Not a dime of the sales went toward the ticket debt; instead, the city and its towing contractor pocketed millions.”

D.C. considers deputizing citizen parking enforcers

“A proposal before the D.C. Council would allow up to 80 regular citizens, 10 in each ward, to issue tickets to vehicles parked where they aren’t allowed — blocking crosswalks, in bike lanes, in front of bus stops.” What could go wrong? [Luz Lazo, Washington Post, also Laredo Morning Times]

Still, others say most people would prefer enforcement be left to trained, public employees.

“Public officials may be far from perfect .?.?. but there is that extra layer that at least you can train them and they are likely to have the time on the job that allows them to build up their expertise,” said Walter Olson, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. They also have protocols to follow — and a job at stake.

“The cellphone evidence can go a long way, but it still doesn’t always tell the whole story,” he said. “A lot of times you are going to have people who are genuinely guilty and you will be enforcing the law as it was intended to be enforced. But traffic enforcement does have a lot of judgment calls.”

But Olson says he can see why the practice would be attractive to cities.

“The city gets more revenue without having to pay salaries,” he said. “The potential increase in ticket revenue would get their interest right away.”

Judge: holding “Cops Ahead” sign to warn motorists may be protected speech

“The cop actually hauling him to the station [for warning motorists that there were cops ahead] was more to the point, telling the man he was arresting him for ‘interfering with our livelihood,'” according to the complaint in the subsequent lawsuit. [Tim Cushing, TechDirt; Stamford, Ct.] We covered a similar ruling in Florida in 2012.

“Chalking tires constitutes unreasonable search, 6th Circuit rules”

“Parking enforcement officers in Saginaw, Michigan, who use chalk to mark the tires of cars to track how long they have been parked are violating the constitution, a federal appeals court ruled Monday.” [Amanda Robert, ABA Journal] In particular, the court found that chalking was a trespass and a search meant to obtain information that was not reasonable under a probable-cause or community-caretaker standard, nor under an exception allowing orderly regulation of road traffic, since in the court’s view it was aimed primarily at obtaining revenue rather than mitigating public hazard. Orin Kerr has more analysis at Volokh Conspiracy.

Update, from Orin Kerr: “The Sixth Circuit has issued an amended opinion in the chalking case clarifying the limited scope of its holding.” Quoting the amended opinion: “Taking the allegations in Taylor’s complaint as true, we hold that chalking is a search under the Fourth Amendment, specifically under the Supreme Court’s decision in Jones. This does not mean, however, that chalking violates the Fourth Amendment. Rather, we hold, based on the pleading stage of this litigation, that two exceptions to the warrant requirement — the ‘community caretaking’ exception and the motor-vehicle exception — do not apply here. Our holding extends no further than this. When the record in this case moves beyond the pleadings stage, the City is, of course, free to argue anew that one or both of those exceptions do apply, or that some other exception to the warrant requirement might apply.”

Ohio bans distracted driving, cops to fill in details

A number of states have banned driver use of handheld cellphones, but the Ohio legislature has now gone further by enacting a ban on distracted driving that

retains [such a ban] while also expanding distracted to include “Engaging in activity that is not necessary for the vehicle’s operation and that impairs, or reasonably would be expected to impair, the driver’s ability to drive safely.”

The new law provides no further explanation of the new definition, leaving it to the discretion of officers and the courts. It is thought that this definition could be applied to any kind of distraction that is related to an accident, including consuming food and beverages or adjusting car systems like climate and radio.

The problem here with vagueness and enforcement discretion go beyond the scope of the penalty, which for now is only $100. [Tim Zubizarreta, Jurist; Scott Greenfield; Tim Cushing on Twitter (“a blank check for pretextual stops”); earlier]

“Vehicle Safety Inspections Don’t Increase Safety”

When New Jersey repealed its requirement for periodic auto safety inspections, there was no statistically meaningful rise in the frequency of accidents due to car failure, or to road fatalities whether linked to car failures or not. Alex Tabarrok: “It’s time to ditch the annual safety inspection and either move to no inspection system at all or like Maryland move to a system that requires safety inspections only at transfer. I’m not convinced that is necessary either, since at transfer is precisely when the buyer will run an inspection anyway, but at least that system would reduce the number of inspections significantly.” [Marginal Revolution, New York Post editorial; Alex Hoagland and Trevor Woolley]