Driving News Roundup: March 10, 2017

In this week’s Driving News Round-up

-MO passes ALPR reform—

-IA, NH pass CAF reform—

-OK, SC pass Real ID—

-ME considers Doggie seatbelts–

NMA Driving News Story of the Week

Utah lawmakers pass bill to lower DUI limit to 0.05 percent
Utah could soon have the strictest DUI threshold in the nation after state lawmakers on Wednesday night voted to lower the limit for a driver’s blood-alcohol content to 0.05 percent, down from 0.08 percent. The measure heads to Utah’s governor, who has said he supports the legislation.

National News

Supreme Court Justice Slams Civil Forfeiture
The idea that the government can take away someone’s car or cash without due process offends at least one member of the US Supreme Court. In a statement Monday, Justice Clarence Thomas called on his colleagues to revisit civil asset forfeiture, the process that allows prosecutors to go after assets allegedly linked in some way to a crime. The justice argued the system has been widely abused.

Chao says U.S. drivers may face more tolls to raise infrastructure funds
Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao this past week raised the prospect that needed infrastructure improvements may be funded to some extent by imposing tolls on more of the nation’s roads and bridges. It was unclear whether she intends to expand tolling on the U.S. interstate system.

Automatic Traffic Enforcement

Missouri Committee Passes Bill to Limit ALPR Data, Help Block National License Plate Tracking
A Missouri Senate committee passed a bill that would put limitations on the storage and sharing of information collected by law enforcement agencies using Automated License Plate Readers (ALPRs) in the state, and place significant roadblocks in the way of a federal program using states to help track the location of millions of everyday people through pictures of their license plates.

East Cleveland mayor defends city’s use of red-light cameras, which violate state law
News 5 has been investigating the troublesome red-light cameras in East Cleveland, which are in direct violation of state law.

Washington: Class-action lawsuit filed against Lynnwood’s traffic cameras
A Lake Forest Park man has filed a federal class-action lawsuit over Lynnwood’s traffic-enforcement cameras. The lawsuit seeks damages for thousands of drivers who have been ticketed.

Washington: In first year of operation, Spokane’s school zone cameras net $1.2 million from speeders
In just one year, cameras capturing speeders near two Spokane elementary schools are close to generating the same amount of fines as the 15 red-light cameras citywide, and the City Council is considering adding more.

Texas: Will Killeen’s red-light cameras soon go away?
The Killeen City Council reached a contested 3-to-2 consensus Tuesday to not renew the red-light camera program contract with Redflex that ends in April.

Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform

Iowa Senate Committee Passes Bill Taking on Asset Forfeiture; Closes Federal Loophole
On Monday, an Iowa Senate committee unanimously passed a bill that would reform the state’s asset forfeiture laws to prohibit the state from taking property without a criminal conviction in many cases. The legislation also takes on federal forfeiture programs by banning prosecutors from circumventing state laws by passing cases off to the feds in most situations.

New Hampshire House approves bill to close federal forfeiture loophole
This week, the New Hampshire House of Representatives passed HB 614, which would close a loophole in forfeiture law. Sponsored by Rep. Michael Sylvia, the bill would ban transferring or referring seized property to a federal agency or joint task force through the “equitable sharing” program, unless the property is cash over $100,000. The bill would not prevent state and local agencies from seizing contraband or property believed to have criminal ties.

Driver’s License Watch

Minnesota Senate Failure Hands Real ID Effort Big Setback
Democrats concerned about blocking driver’s license access for immigrants living in Minnesota illegally united with several Republicans with privacy concerns to defeat the measure.

New York: Judges to Hear Challenges to License Revocation Rules for Repeat DWI Offenders
Three cases New York state’s highest court will hear later this month involve complaints critics have leveled since 2012, when the state introduced strict new restrictions on restoring license privileges to repeat drunken drivers. The DMV did not respond March 3 to requests for precise numbers for permanent or extended driver’s license revocations it has made under the 2012 …

Oklahoma Governor signs bill to get state driver’s licenses in line with federal Real ID Act
Gov. Mary Fallin on Thursday signed legislation to make the state compliant with the federal Real ID Act.

New legal challenge filed over Oklahoma driver’s license revocations
The Oklahoma Department of Public Safety is facing a new legal challenge to its procedures for taking driver’s licenses away from drunken driving convicted motorists.

South Carolina House passes Real ID legislation
Under the House bill, the fee for a Real ID driver’s license would be $25, the same as a 10-year driver’s license today. Funds generated by the fee would go into the Department of Transportation’s State Highway Fund.

Utah Bill for Automatic Voter Registration with a Driver’s License Renewal Heads to Full Senate
“A lot of people think that if they update their information with the post office or with the driver’s license (division), then it’s automatically transferred over.”

WV House of Delegates revisits voter ID bill
The conference committee also added a provision to the bill that automatically registers state residents to vote when they apply for a driver’s license.

Driving in America

Proposed law could halve California fines for right-turn-on-red violations
California Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo County, has introduced a bill that would reduce the fines drivers pay if they get caught turning right at a red light without first coming to a complete stop. Senate Bill 493 would reduce the base fine to $35, down from the $100 current fine.

Patience expired with Bridgeport, CT’s new parking meters
Downtown merchants have long-wanted modern parking meters that offered visitors the convenience of paying with credit or debit cards, not just rolls of quarters. Critics say they wound up with dozens of overly aggressive RoboCops quick to levy $40 parking violations through the mail that eclipse what many more thriving Connecticut cities charge, threatening business.

Seat belts on school buses bill passes Illinois House committee
Up until NHTSA’s endorsement, federal and state safety organizations have largely remained neutral on the issue.

Maine considering doggy seat belt law
Tail wagging, tongue out, feeling the breeze: for a dog, there may be no greater joy than riding in a car, with its head out of the window.

Mississippi State House passes bill requiring use of seat belts
When the Legislature passed the primary seat belt law for front seat occupants in the 1990s, it was a major issue that supporters worked on for years.

New Jersey Court Overturns Strip Search over $6.50 Traffic Fine
Can police strip search a motorist over an unpaid $6.50 traffic ticket? The New Jersey Superior Court’s Appellate Division said last week that such conduct is unconstitutional. A three-judge panel considered the case of Robert L. Evans, who was subjected to a search on January 4, 2012, after a Vineland police officer saw Evans pulling into, and then out of, a parking spot at the Days Inn.

Washington State Senate votes to ban holding phones while driving
A bill that bans holding an electronic device while driving to reduce distracted driving incidents has passed in the state Senate.

Infrastructure Watch

California’s ‘NEPA-geddon’ could stop billions in roadwork
California’s last legislative session ended with hundreds of bills left on the table, but perhaps none as potentially significant as measures to preserve a decade-old arrangement with the federal government that speeds up California transportation projects. The pact expired Dec. 31, and now the Brown administration and lawmakers are racing to revive it and keep billions of dollars in planned projects on schedule.

Connecticut Governor Malloy asks state businesses to push for transportation ‘lockbox’
Gov. Daniel P. Malloy urged business leaders Wednesday to help him convince legislators to safeguard transportation funds. Malloy, whose plans for a major, 30-year transportation rebuilding program is imperiled by a lack of funding, said it is “almost impossible” to get legislators to support a constitutional “lockbox” amendment to ensure transportation funds are not diverted for other purposes.

Editorial: Fix Illinois bridges — and fix how we pay for the work
Built in 1933, the Lake Shore Drive Bridge over Lawrence Avenue isn’t a pretty sight. Decades of Chicago freeze-and-thaw and ceaseless traffic have caused sections of concrete to fall away, exposing the underlying rebar. The march of time — and Chicago winters — are unforgiving.

Omaha’s Answer to Costly Potholes? Go Back to Gravel Roads
After living more than 40 years along a road plagued by potholes, Jo Anne Amoura was excited to see city crews shred her block of Leavenworth Street into gravel. “I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh, this is great. We’re going to get a new street,’” Ms. Amoura recalled. “And then we waited and waited and waited.” Fresh pavement never arrived. Only after the asphalt had been ripped out almost three years ago did Ms. Amoura and her neighbors learn that their street had been “reclaimed,” Omaha City Hall’s euphemism for unpaving a road.

Texas poised to spend $2.5 billion on urban highway projects
The Texas Transportation Commission, which oversees the state transportation department, is set to vote this month on its 10-year plan that lays out its long-term strategy for upcoming road projects. Included in that is a $2.5 billion, four-year plan specifically aimed at unclogging choke points in urban areas.

Utah Senate quickly OKs plan to borrow $1 billion for Utah highway projects
A proposal to borrow $1 billion through bonds to accelerate some needed highway projects sped through the Senate on Monday. The Senate Transportation Committee voted 6-0 to endorse SB277, and the full Senate followed suit in a unanimous vote. The bill now heads to the House. Its sponsor, Sen. Wayne Harper, R-Taylorsville, said the Utah Transportation Commission would choose which projects to speed up from its lists of already-approved work, and would likely target those needed the most or where savings would be the greatest.

Vision Zero

Philadelphia Lays Out Data-Driven Plan for Eliminating Traffic Deaths
Following the example of San Francisco and Washington, D.C., Philadelphia’s new Vision Zero Action Plan prioritizes data collection in its quest to end traffic related deaths by 2030. Mayor Jim Kenney’s office released the blueprint — technically a draft plan for public comment — Tuesday. It calls for a numbers-gathering effort to better assess “high injury networks” and dangerous behaviors and target investment accordingly, while emphasizing that street-level injuries do not affect all Philadelphians equally.

The NMA Driving News Roundup is a regular feature on the NMA Blog, where we highlight some of the most interesting driving news stories of the week. If you have a story for Driving News, send the url via email to nma@motorists.org. Every other Sunday, catch the Car of the Future Roundup blog post.

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