NATIONAL MOTORISTS ASSOCIATION
Dear Massachusetts Motorist,
The Safe Driving Bill
As you probably know, the new Safe Driving Bill makes texting-while-driving a new violation. Most people also heard that drivers under 18 years of age are now banned from using a phone altogether while driving. And you probably heard that drivers older than 75 must will be required to pass a vision test every five years. But did you know that the new law also changes the number of
'surchargeable incidents' that can lead to a license suspension from the old five within the past three years to three surchargeable incidents within the past 24 months?
By the way, this new law is going into effect October 1, 2010.
Officers Are Getting Hurt
Lately, too many cops ticketing people late at night have gotten hit by alleged drunk drivers. The official response to fix that was to send out more officers to ticket more people. This heavy-handed response is really not addressing the problem. Instead, the officials should take the following approach.
Until questions like these get addressed, police officers working the night shift will continue to get hurt.
- Investigate why it is happening: How come those motorists drove into cops standing by their cruisers? Could it be that flashing blue lights have become too bright? Did they become too blinding and disorienting?
- Change the police procedures: In many states, the officers approach a car from the passenger side, away from the passing traffic. In other states, the officers wear reflective gear. Massachusetts has not adopted these measures. What else can be done so that officers are better protecting themselves roadside?
- All these extra cops on the roads just ended up randomly ticketing otherwise law-abiding drivers for exceeding unrealistic speed limits: Why is speeding so grossly over-represented relative to other offenses? What is the percentage of truly impaired and incompetent drivers who have gotten stopped when they were not speeding?
And Speaking of "Drunk" Drivers . . .
In addition to diabetics with low blood sugar and smokers whose breaths the Breathalyzer reported as "alcohol," an Alabama DUI attorney conducted tests showing that after he ate various types of bread products, he registered blood-alcohol readings on the machine. The readings commonly reached 0.03 percent but also got as high as 0.05 percent, which when combined with, say,
a glass of wine, could trigger a BAC of 0.08 percent. Here is a recent story on that testing.
Another New Law
Governor Deval Patrick signed into law a new vehicle registration classification. it will be used for street rods, custom vehicles, replicas and specially constructed vehicles.
Thank you for supporting the NMA,
MA State Coordinator
Additional News From Around The State
Over a year after a state "roadway safety audit" found that the speed limit on rebuilt Route 3 north of Burlington was dangerously low, State Police have still not given permission to raise the speed limit.
The legislature voted down a measure that would have repealed the $25 fee to plead not guilty to a traffic ticket. Instead the legislature made the law even tougher by requiring the fee to be paid at the time the ticket was mailed in, instead of any time before the hearing. Under the new law the $25
is now explicitly a "filing fee." Ordinarily the loser of a court case has to pay the winner's filing fee, but it is not clear if this principle can be applied to drivers who win in traffic court.
A new law signed by the Governor August 13 gives funeral processions right of way once the lead vehicle legally enters an intersection. Other vehicles in the procession may disregard stop signs and red lights. This custom was not officially part of Massachusetts law.
The Governor's Highway Safety Bureau is pushing cities and towns to adopt "zero tolerance" policies for seat belt violations, but zero tolerance policies for traffic violations are illegal in Massachusetts. Several years ago the police chief in Newton ordered officers to write more tickets. The police union
took him to court and won. According to the state appeals court the officer on the street has absolute discretion to ticket or not.
City councilors in Holyoke wanted to know why somebody poured a foot high concrete traffic island in the middle of a busy street without telling them, the police, or the fire department. The city engineer explained the federal government gave the DPW $3,000 to build it. Superiors, not
impressed by the "traffic calming" explanation, ordered the mound removed after it caused a serious injury to a motorcyclist. Our tax dollars at work...
MA State Activist
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