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Newark Legal Issues Blog

Newark, New Jersey Criminal Defense Legal Blog

Report warns of Breathalyzer unreliability

Many people in New Jersey believe that Breathalyzers accurately reflect alcohol consumption and intoxication while driving, but human error and poor oversight means that many tests are unreliable. Judges in several states refused to accept more than 30,000 breath tests as evidence. The New York Times revealed these figures as part of an overall investigation into breath test usage nationwide. The newspaper found that incorrect adjustment and calibration could lead the devices to report results that were incorrect by as much as 40%.

As part of the investigation, the newspaper interviewed 100 experts, including scientists, law enforcement professionals, and lawyers. They uncovered several serious problems with the primary piece of evidence frequently cites in drunk driving cases. When breathalyzers are not properly maintained or calibrated, they no longer perform accurately. However, police are still arresting and prosecutors charging people based on these problematic devices. Some of the machines even malfunctioned when a person used a breath mint. Poor maintenance can also make the devices much slower, and some are old and unreliable. As a result, people with a blood alcohol concentration below the legal level may face DUI charges. Some innocent people may even plead guilty to false charges in an attempt to avoid more severe penalties.

Have my civil rights been violated during an arrest?

All people in the United States have certain basic rights in every day life. These rights include being free from sexual harassment and racial discrimination. While civil rights are considered to be a priority, it is, unfortunately, the reality that many people suffer civil rights violations in differing contexts every year.

Being informed on your civil rights is a key part of the journey to protecting yourself. It is not possible to stand up for rights that you do not know you have. The following blog is an overview of civil rights law in the United States and how you can take action if you believe that your civil rights have been violated.

Study: distracted driving most widespread among teens

Parents in New Jersey may want to speak with their teens about the dangers of distracted driving. October 20 to 26 has been designated as Teen Driver Safety Week, and in time for this, researchers at Michigan State University have revealed some important facts that they discovered after a distracted driving study.

The study involved 3,400 teens whose driving was monitored from 2011 to 2013. Researchers were able to determine how often teens drove distracted and how often distracted driving contributed to a crash. Many times, it was a phone-related distraction that led to a crash.

More people face convictions although crime is down

New Jersey residents are more likely to be arrested and convicted of crimes than in the past, but this is not because crime is on the rise. Instead, there is a rise in taking people into custody for petty crimes, including underage drinking. Even one conviction can have a significant effect on a person's future, affecting their ability to go into certain lines of work and leading to an average annual drop in earnings compared to those who have never faced a criminal conviction.

According to a study that recently appeared in Crime & Delinquency, more Americans are being taken into custody and convicted by the age of 26 than previous generations. This is despite the fact that violent crime has been cut in half since the early 1990s and more than 3% from 2017 to 2018. Among those detained, "other misdemeanors" is the reason for almost one-third of women and more than 25% of men. While black men remain the most likely demographic to be taken into custody, numbers are also rising for both women and white men.

Truckers among the most sleep-deprived workers in U.S.

A study from Ball State University shows that more and more commercial truck drivers are reporting sleep deprivation. They are not the only ones, but their profession is among those that have been hardest hit. New Jersey residents should know that between 2010 and 2018, the percentage of respondents who said they get less than seven hours of sleep rose from 30.9% to 35.6%.

About 41% of those in the transport and material moving industry experience poor sleep. Those who have been most deeply affected by poor sleep work with the police or the military (50%), and this was followed by those in the healthcare industry (45%). Forty-one percent of those in production also reported inadequate sleep. Many of these are professions where 24-hour shift work is not uncommon.

FBI terror watchlist ruled unconstitutional by federal judge

New Jersey readers may be interested to learn that a federal judge recently ruled that the FBI's watchlist of "known or suspected terrorists" is unconstitutional. The ruling was handed down on Sept. 4.

The case was brought before the court by a group of American Muslims who claimed they were wrongly added to the Terrorist Screening Database. They also claimed the government used an overbroad approach when deciding who should be added to the list and that the list contained numerous errors. The Council on American-Islamic Relations helped the plaintiffs file the lawsuit. The judge agreed with the plaintiffs, finding that the significant travel burdens experienced by those named on the list were unconstitutional. The judge is seeking additional legal briefs on the matter before deciding what remedies to impose.

Do you know how to interact with police?

Most people never find themselves interacting with police. And if they do, it's typically the result of a basic traffic violation, such as running a stop sign or speeding.

However, there are other situations in which you may have to interact with police, such as if they stop you on the street or show up on your front porch.

Some foreign cars more likely to be in crashes, says survey

A survey looking at cars that are currently on roadways in New Jersey and across the country found that one model has been involved in more at-fault crashes than any other. The study made use of statistics gathered by Insurify as part of its insurance quote process. Drivers were asked the make and model of their cars and whether their vehicle had ever been in an accident. The study indicated that 13.64% of car models had been involved in a crash.

The Subaru Crosstrek was the most likely to have been in a crash, at 25.81%. The Honda HR-V was the second most likely, at 25.7%. Of the top 10 cars on Insurify's crash list, nine were imports. Seven of them were Japanese, and two were Korean. The only American-made vehicle in the top 10 was the Chevrolet Trax. The Korean vehicles are both manufactured by Hyundai: the Elantra GT and the Santa Fe Sport.

Keeping free of distractions on the road

Drivers in New Jersey may not realize just how many distractions they face behind the wheel. Anything that takes their attention from the road can be considered a distraction. This includes calling; texting; the use of infotainment systems; and even basic activities like eating, drinking, and talking with passengers.

There are ways to avoid these distractions, though. Drivers should, first of all, put their phones on Do Not Disturb mode and stay far away from them. Even hands-free devices are dangerous. Next, drivers might want to follow a policy of no eating in the car because eating brings with it the risk of spills and loud arguments among children.

Reasons to avoid sitting in a rear car seat

A study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has discovered that rear seats are lagging behind front seats in terms of safety. Automotive experts have been so busy incorporating new devices for front seats that rear-seat safety remains, in essence, the same as it was in the 1990s. New Jersey residents may want to think twice about sitting in the back of a car.

The IIHS has pointed out several deficiencies in rear-seat safety. The first is a lack of force limiters. These devices unspool webbing from a seat belt to give more space to passengers when their harness tightens against them. The second area of concern has to do with airbags. While some automakers are developing forward airbags for rear seats, they are far from becoming a regular feature. The lack of side curtain airbags can also prove detrimental.

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