Tuesday, November 20, 2018
The car above is a much nicer version of my first car. When I received it from my parents, it was 15 years old and had 500,000 miles. It was on its 5th engine. Seat belts were not standard, I could not run the radio, head lights and windshield wipers at the same time.
Why do I tell you about this. Here in the Raleigh area, a teenager was recently given a speeding ticket for 198 in a 55 zone. Trust me, he was not driving a 1962 VW Karman Ghia. He was driving a brand new Dodge Daytona Hellcat. It begs the question, what were his parents thinking when then gave him a car that goes 200 MPH?
I think parents have this inner debate of "Do I give my teenager an old car that does not go very fast or a new car that has all the current safety equipment"? I think more times than not, parents go with the new car because we think we can control our children but we cannot control anyone else on the road so we put our children in a car that will protect them from everyone else even if it will not protect them from themselves.
I do not know if there is a correct response to this question. I just think we need to be aware of the fact that we do not have as much control over our children as we think we do.
Thursday, November 8, 2018
Driver who killed 3 children at Indiana bus stop says she didn't see bus until it was too late.
Alyssa Shepherd, 24, was driving her pickup truck early on Tuesday morning when she struck a group of middle school students crossing the road to board their school bus.
Siblings Alivia Stahl, 9, and Xzavier and Mason Ingle, both 6, all died on the scene, while the fourth child, 11-year-old Maverik Lowe, suffered multiple broken bones and was airlifted to a hospital to undergo emergency surgery.
In a court hearing Wednesday, police disclosed what Shepherd, an eyewitness and the bus driver told them following the tragic accident, WTTV reports.
The female witness, who was driving behind Shepherd, estimated the suspect was driving around 45 mph at the time of the crash and said the bus was very visible, even though it was dark outside. The witness told police that she slowed down for the bus, but that Shepherd did not.
Shepherd reportedly told authorities that she was returning from driving her husband to work at the time of the accident and had three children in her truck at the time, including her little brother. She acknowledged she saw "something" with lights on the side of the road, but claimed she didn't recognize it was a school bus until it was too late to stop.
The bus driver told police he spotted Shepherd's truck and, believing it was a good distance away, he waved the children across the highway, according to WTTV. He said once he realized the truck was not slowing down, he honked his horn to try and signal the children to turn back.
According to authorities, the school bus followed proper protocol and had its stop-arm out at the time of the accident. All 50 states have laws that prohibit drivers from passing school buses when they are stopped and have their flashing lights on.
Shepherd was arrested following the crash and was charged with three counts of reckless homicide and one count of passing a school bus when arm signal device is extended, causing bodily injury. She has been released from jail on a $15,000 bond and will appear in court on Nov. 13, WSBT reports.
Thursday, November 1, 2018
More examples of teens being killed on our roads due to high speeds.
Raleigh, N.C. — The Cardinal Gibbons High School student who died when her car ran off Possum Track Road and struck several trees earlier this week was traveling 95 mph, according to troopers.
Madeline Grace Shook, 16, of Raleigh, was traveling north on Possum Track Road, in northern Wake County, when she crashed while traveling approximately 95 mph in a 45 mph zone. She died at the scene. She was the only occupant in the vehicle.
Shook was on the school's track team and is remembered by teammates as a bright light, a go-getter and a voice of reassurance.
"She just was always encouraging us to do our best and to run to our full potential," Marianne Bahna said.
Cardinal Gibbons Principal Jason Curtis said he remembers Shook as a smart student and competitive athlete.
“As an educator, how can I best care for them and love them and support them just as their parents have asked us to,” Curtis said of grieving students. “What goes through my head is we, the adults, need to model for them the appropriate response.
Tuesday, October 16, 2018
In North Carolina, it is illegal to pull into an intersection if you cannot get all the way through the intersection. The exact statute reads as follows:
§ 20-142.5. Stop when traffic obstructed.
No driver shall enter an intersection or a marked crosswalk or drive onto any railroad grade crossing unless there is sufficient space on the other side of the intersection, crosswalk, or railroad grade crossing to accommodate the vehicle he is operating without obstructing the
passage of other vehicles, pedestrians, or railroad trains, notwithstanding the indication of any traffic control signal to proceed. Any person who violates any provision of this section shall be guilty of an infraction and punished in accordance with G.S. 20-176. Violation of this section shall not constitute negligence per se. An employer who knowingly allows, requires, permits, or otherwise authorizes a driver of a commercial motor vehicle to violate this section shall be guilty of an infraction. Such employer will also be subject to a civil penalty under G.S. 20-37.21. (1991, c. 368, s. 1; 2005-349, s. 16.)
Monday, September 17, 2018
We had a storm here in Raleigh this week. After attending a dinner on Friday night, I was following my wife home. Due to the storm, power was out at a few intersections and the signal lights were not working. As we came to one intersection, my wife stopped, looked both ways and proceeded through the intersection. As I approached the same intersection, I stopped. The car coming across my lane just ran right through the intersection without stopping or even slowing down.
I have highlighted the section below that states that you must treat all intersections like four way stops in the event power is out and the light is not working. Unlike the driver I encountered, it does not mean that you have the right of way.
§ 20-158. Vehicle control signs and signals.
(a) The Department of Transportation, with reference to State highways, and local authorities, with reference to highways under their jurisdiction, are hereby authorized to control vehicles:
(1) At intersections, by erecting or installing stop signs requiring vehicles to come to a complete stop at the entrance to that portion of the intersection designated as the main traveled or through highway. Stop signs may also be erected at three or more entrances to an intersection.
(2) At appropriate places other than intersections, by erecting or installing stop signs requiring vehicles to come to a complete stop.
(3) At intersections and other appropriate places, by erecting or installing steady-beam traffic signals and other traffic control devices, signs, or signals. All steady-beam traffic signals emitting alternate red and green lights shall be arranged so that the red light in vertical-arranged signal faces shall appear above, and in horizontal-arranged signal faces shall appear to the left of all yellow and green lights.
(4) At intersections and other appropriate places, by erecting or installing flashing red or yellow lights.
(b) Control of Vehicles at Intersections. -
(1) When a stop sign has been erected or installed at an intersection, it shall be unlawful for the driver of any vehicle to fail to stop in obedience thereto and yield the right-of-way to vehicles operating on the designated main-traveled or through highway. When stop signs have been erected at three or more entrances to an intersection, the driver, after stopping in obedience thereto, may proceed with caution.
(2) a. When a traffic signal is emitting a steady red circular light controlling traffic approaching an intersection, an approaching vehicle facing the red light shall come to a stop and shall not enter the intersection. After coming to a complete stop and unless prohibited by an appropriate sign, that approaching vehicle may make a right turn.
b. Any vehicle that turns right under this subdivision shall yield the right-of-way to:
1. Other traffic and pedestrians using the intersection; and
2. Pedestrians who are moving towards the intersection, who are in reasonably close proximity to the intersection, and who are preparing to cross in front of the traffic that is required to stop at the red light.
c. Failure to yield to a pedestrian under this subdivision shall be an infraction, and the court may assess a penalty of not more than five hundred dollars ($500.00) and not less than one hundred dollars ($100.00).
d. Repealed by Session Laws 2014-58, s. 4, effective July 7, 2014.
(2a) When a traffic signal is emitting a steady yellow circular light on a traffic signal controlling traffic approaching an intersection or a steady yellow arrow light on a traffic signal controlling traffic turning at an intersection, vehicles facing the yellow light are warned that the related green light is being terminated or a red light will be immediately forthcoming. When the traffic signal is emitting a steady green light, vehicles may proceed with due care through the intersection subject to the rights of pedestrians and other vehicles as may otherwise be provided by law.
(3) When a flashing red light has been erected or installed at an intersection, approaching vehicles facing the red light shall stop and yield the right-of-way to vehicles in or approaching the intersection. The right to proceed shall be subject to the rules applicable to making a stop at a stop sign.
(4) When a flashing yellow light has been erected or installed at an intersection, approaching vehicles facing the yellow flashing light may proceed through the intersection with caution, yielding the right-of-way to vehicles in or approaching the intersection.
(5) When a stop sign, traffic signal, flashing light, or other traffic-control device authorized by subsection (a) of this section requires a vehicle to stop at an intersection, the driver shall stop (i) at an appropriately marked stop line, or if none, (ii) before entering a marked crosswalk, or if none, (iii) before entering the intersection at the point nearest the intersecting street where the driver has a view of approaching traffic on the intersecting street.
(6) When a traffic signal is not illuminated due to a power outage or other malfunction, vehicles shall approach the intersection and proceed through the intersection as though such intersection is controlled by a stop sign on all approaches to the intersection. This subdivision shall not apply if the movement of traffic at the intersection is being directed by a law enforcement officer, another authorized person, or another type of traffic control device.
(c) Control of Vehicles at Places other than Intersections. -
(1) When a stop sign has been erected or installed at a place other than an intersection, it shall be unlawful for the driver of any vehicle to fail to stop in obedience thereto and yield the right-of-way to pedestrians and other vehicles.
(2) When a traffic signal has been erected or installed at a place other than an intersection, and is emitting a steady red light, vehicles facing the red light shall come to a complete stop. When the traffic signal is emitting a steady yellow light, vehicles facing the light shall be warned that a red light will be immediately forthcoming and that vehicles may not proceed through such a red light. When the traffic signal is emitting a steady green light, vehicles may proceed subject to the rights of pedestrians and other vehicles as may otherwise be provided by law.
(3) When a flashing red light has been erected or installed at a place other than an intersection, approaching vehicles facing the light shall stop and yield the right-of-way to pedestrians or other vehicles.
(4) When a flashing yellow light has been erected or installed at a place other than an intersection, approaching vehicles facing the light may proceed with caution, yielding the right-of-way to pedestrians and other vehicles.
(5) When a traffic signal, stop sign, or other traffic control device authorized by subsection (a) requires a vehicle to stop at a place other than an intersection, the driver shall stop at an appropriately marked stop line, or if none, before entering a marked crosswalk, or if none, before proceeding past the traffic control device.
(6) When a ramp meter is displaying a circular red display, vehicles facing the red light must stop. When a ramp meter is displaying a circular green display, a vehicle may proceed for each lane of traffic facing the meter. When the display is dark or not emitting a red or green display, a vehicle may proceed without stopping. A violation of this subdivision is an infraction. No drivers license points or insurance surcharge shall be assessed as a result of a violation of this subdivision.
(d) No failure to stop as required by the provisions of this section shall be considered negligence or contributory negligence per se in any action at law for injury to person or property, but the facts relating to such failure to stop may be considered with the other facts in the case in determining whether a party was guilty of negligence or contributory negligence.
(e) Defense. - It shall be a defense to a violation of sub-subdivision (b)(2)a. of this section if the operator of a motorcycle, as defined in G.S. 20-4.01(27)h., shows all of the following:
(1) The operator brought the motorcycle to a complete stop at the intersection or stop bar where a steady red light was being emitted in the direction of the operator.
(2) The intersection is controlled by a vehicle actuated traffic signal using an inductive loop to activate the traffic signal.
(3) No other vehicle that was entitled to have the right-of-way under applicable law was sitting at, traveling through, or approaching the intersection.
(4) No pedestrians were attempting to cross at or near the intersection.
(5) The motorcycle operator who received the citation waited a minimum of three minutes at the intersection or stop bar where the steady red light was being emitted in the direction of the operator before entering the intersection. (1937, c. 407, s. 120; 1941, c. 83; 1949, c. 583, s. 2; 1955, c. 384, s. 1; c. 913, s. 7; 1957, c. 65, s. 11; 1973, c. 507, s. 5; c. 1191; c. 1330, s. 22; 1975, c. 1; 1977, c. 464, s. 34; 1979, c. 298, s. 1; 1989, c. 285; 2004-141, ss. 1, 2; 2004-172, ss. 2, 5; 2006-264, s. 6; 2007-260, s. 1; 2007-360, ss. 2, 3; 2014-58, ss. 4, 10(b); 2017-102, s. 5.2(b).)
Tuesday, September 4, 2018
I have been telling my clients this for years. Below is a great review on what to wear to court and how it affect sentencing.
Does what a defendant wears to court impact his or her sentence?
We’ve written about dress and appearance a lot on this blog. Jeff wrote here about defendants wearing eyeglasses and dress clothes and covering up tattoos in front of a jury, and here about a judge’s authority to set rules about what people can wear to court. He talked about juror attire here. Shea tackled dress standards for lawyers—particularly women—here.
I’m not exactly breaking any news to say that appearances matter in the criminal justice system. For defendants. For lawyers. For probation officers (who have considered transitioning from business attire to a uniform, by the way). For everyone—just as in all walks of life, I suppose.
As for defendants, the due process and statutory rules about clothing at trial mostly relate to wearing jail or prison garb, and they’re focused on protecting the defendant’s right to a fair trial before a jury. See Estelle v. Williams, 425 U.S. 501, 504–05 (1976) (“Courts have, with few exceptions, determined that an accused should not be compelled to go to trial in prison or jail clothing because of the possible impairment of the presumption so basic to the adversary system. . . . Similarly troubling is the fact that compelling the accused to stand trial in jail garb operates usually against only those who cannot post bail prior to trial.”); G.S. 15-176 (“It shall be unlawful for any sheriff, jailer or other officer to require any person imprisoned in jail to appear in any court for trial [in superior court] dressed in the uniform or dress of a prisoner or convict, or in any uniform or apparel other than ordinary civilian’s dress.”).
But the issue surely goes beyond the jury. Defendants’ dress and appearance before the judge at sentencing is something we talk about every year in our annual sentencing seminar at the School of Government (the one created and led by Jim Drennan for over 20 years). And every year, court officials acknowledge the ways defendants’ attire can affect their thinking—for better or for worse. Some of their reactions are straightforward, but some are really subtle. We talk about separating our pet peeves and preferences (some of which might stem from socioeconomic, generational, or cultural differences) from issues that convey information truly relevant to the purposes of sentencing.
Some general rules of thumb emerge. If the court has posted rules about attire, and the defendant doesn’t follow them, that’s bad. (I was just at a courthouse yesterday, and the most prominent signs on the courtroom door were those requiring shirts to be tucked in.) There is the occasional anecdote about a defendant wearing a t-shirt with a marijuana leaf to his drug crime sentencing. Those choices can be received as a signal that the defendant isn’t taking the proceedings seriously. And that can lead to a harsher sentence, to “get the defendant’s attention.” Some will say things like “dress like you’re going to church,” but most are very welcoming of defendants dressed like they’re going to work—whether it’s a business suit, medical scrubs, or a mechanic’s uniform. I’d be interested to hear any practical advice our readers have to offer.