Wednesday, March 30, 2016


Image result for deaths caused by illegal immigrants

Interesting article on deaths caused by illegal immigrants compared to DWIs.

In the five years since an unlicensed illegal immigrant ran down his son, Don Rosenberg has turned his anger and grief into a mission to answer a seemingly simple question: How many people are killed each year by drivers who don’t belong in the U.S., much less behind a wheel?
Drew Rosenberg, a 25-year-old student at Golden Gate University, was riding his motorcycle in San Francisco when Roberto Galo struck him on Nov. 16, 2010. In his frenzied effort to flee the scene, Galo ran over his victim twice. The elder Rosenberg got the news no parent should hear from San Francisco General Hospital that night, but what he would learn over the next few years only compounded his bitterness.
As many as 7,500 Americans -- 20 per day -- are killed annually by unlicensed drivers, and Rosenberg calculates that more than half are the victims of illegal immigrants. Now, by testifying before lawmakers, speaking to parents who have been through the same ordeal and posting his research on his nonprofit’s website,, Rosenberg is shedding light on a frightening number not readily available from government sources.
“Our archives are filled with stories of drunk-driving illegals killing U.S. citizens.”
- William Gheen, Americans for Legal Immigration
“I was stunned at what I found,” said Rosenberg, who at 63 is semi-retired from the entertainment and publishing industry. “Not only were unlicensed drivers killing people in numbers only exceeded by drunk drivers, but many times they were barely being punished and many times faced no charges at all.”
Galo, a Honduran, who entered the country illegally but earned temporary protective status, had been cited five months earlier for driving without a license or insurance and heading the wrong way on a one-way street in San Francisco. His car was impounded for a day, he paid a fine for the moving violation and the other charges were dropped.
After he was convicted of manslaughter, Galo served six weeks in jail and was released. He was deported in 2013 after a years-long legal battle.
Because state and federal highway safety officials do not classify deaths by the perpetrator’s immigration stats, tabulating the deadly toll of unlicensed, illegal immigrant drivers has been a painstaking effort.  Rosenberg has pored through spreadsheets and studies, piecing together numbers that show his son’s death was neither necessary nor unique. Still, his estimate is just that, and it varies from the guesses of other groups.
“I’ve learned over time that many jurisdictions do not cite license status or immigration status when reporting these statistics, so if anything, the numbers are understated,” he said. “For example, San Francisco doesn’t report either criteria, so Drew’s death defaults to having been killed by a licensed driver who was a citizen.”
Such imprecise government bookkeeping masks a frightening and, critics say, preventable danger. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, which obtains state-by-state data from the federal government Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) database – found that 20 percent of fatal crashes involved an unlicensed driver. From 2010-2014, there was an average of 32,887 road deaths per year, which would mean 6,577 were caused by unlicensed drivers. Those drivers include citizens with suspended or revoked licenses, and those who never had licenses. But if half are illegal immigrants, it would be in line with Rosenberg’s estimates.
“Our archives are filled with stories of drunk-driving illegals killing U.S. citizens,” William Gheen, of the Americans for Legal Immigration Political Action Committee, told “It is our official estimate that more than 3,000 U.S citizens lose their lives each year due to the insufficient enforcement of our existing border and immigration law.”
Brandon Mendoza was a 32-year-old, Mesa, Ariz., policeman in 2014 when an unlicensed, illegal immigrant driver drove drunk the wrong way on a freeway and killed him. Raul Silva-Corona had been convicted of criminal conspiracy in Colorado 20 years earlier, but never deported.
Mendoza’s mother believes the government could make the roads safer by at least deporting illegal immigrants who have been convicted of crimes.
“I don't believe it's reality to be able to get all of the illegals out of the country, but I do believe we need to get the criminal element out of here and secure the border so that they cannot continue to keep coming back,” Mary Ann Mendoza said.
Like Rosenberg, Mendoza has turned her grief into activism, starting a memorial foundation to continue her fallen son’s legacy and urging policymakers to take the issue more seriously.
“Until you have lost a loved one to an illegal criminal, you will never truly understand the other side of this issue,” she said.
The problem of unlicensed illegal immigrant drivers is most severe in the southwest, according to Peoria, Ariz., Police Detective Chris Boughey. Patrolling the streets of the Phoenix suburb, Boughey has encountered many incidents involving unlicensed, illegal immigrant drivers and considered it in a national perspective.
“With at least 11.4 million unauthorized immigrants in the United States, it can be surmised that a large population drive a vehicle on a regular basis,” Boughey said, adding that enforcing laws already on the books should mean deportation for illegal immigrants caught driving without valid licenses.
When government agencies do acknowledge the danger posed by unlicensed drivers, including illegal immigrants, they often use the information to further a pro-illegal immigrant agenda, say critics.
In the wake of a 2013 study by the California Department of Motor Vehicles that concluded that unlicensed drivers are almost three times as likely to cause a deadly car accident as a licensed driver, Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation allowing illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses. California, which was believed to have 2 million unlicensed drivers prior to passage of the law, is now one of a dozen states to allow the controversial practice.
“States that have worked with undocumented immigrants to enable them to get drivers licenses and insurance see a decrease in uninsured motorist claims,” said Janet Ruiz, of the Insurance Information Institute. “The availability of driver’s licenses and insurance promote safer driving and less accidents.”
Gregory Chen, director of advocacy at the American Immigration Lawyers Associated, agreed.
"The best way to ensure safety on our nation's roads is to make sure everyone who drives has passed a driver's exam, and has a license and insurance,” he said. “The last thing states and localities want is for their law enforcement and emergency teams to arrive at roadside accidents where drivers are uninsured and where injured persons arrive at hospitals unable to pay."
But Gheen and other critics say those who combat the problem of unlicensed drivers by awarding them licenses have it backward. A better solution, he said, is enforcing existing immigration law to the point that people are no longer encouraged to “enter and remain in the U.S. illegally.”
Rosenberg, who describes himself as a “lifelong liberal,” said the circumstances surrounding his son’s death have left him bitter at the group he calls the “amnesty crowd.” He also wants illegal immigrants caught driving without a license to be deported.
 “While I can sympathize with people who want to make their lives better, they can’t do it at the expense of others,” he said. “I am not angry at those who come here to try and better their life or their children’s, but it can’t be condoned or rewarded.”

Wednesday, March 23, 2016



Speeding enforcement crackdown in NC to target anyone going above posted limit

RALEIGH, N.C. — How fast can you go on the highway without getting the attention of police? Anything under 10 miles per hour over the speed limit is okay, right?
Well, WTVD reported that the North Carolina Department of Transportation is ready to burst the bubble on the widely believed 9 mph cushion myth.
The governor’s highway safety program is ramping up what’s being called “Obey the Sign or Pay the Fine” speeding enforcement crackdown.
Apparently, there’s a belief out there that if the speed limit is 65, officers or troopers won’t pull you over if you’re doing 1 to 9 miles per hour over the limit – a so-called buffer zone.
The DOT says that’s not the case. Law enforcement says beginning Thursday, they’ll target and ticket anyone driving above the posted speed limit.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Raleigh Traffic Stop

Image result for wake county traffic stop

The Raleigh Police Department recently put out a video on what to do in a traffic stop.  Below is a great review of the video from the NC School of Government.

As mentioned in a recent News Roundup, the Raleigh Police Department (RPD) produced a short video entitled “Traffic Stops: What to Expect as a Motorist,” instructing drivers who have been pulled over by law enforcement on how they should behave. It appears that the RPD had the laudable goal of educating the public to ensure the safety of both officers and motorists. Captain Bruce, the officer who narrates the video, states that “by following a few basic steps, the experience can progress without misunderstanding or conflict.” The video is garnering attention: As of today, it has received 8,446 views on YouTube, with “likes” outweighing “dislikes” 21 to 15. This blog offers legal commentary on a few of the points made in the video, using a scale of green light for what appear to be sound instructions, yellow light for instructions that may raise questions, and red light for an instruction that may prove misleading to citizens.

Stoplight Green
Standard for a traffic stop: The officer in the video correctly states that a traffic stop must be supported “by reasonable suspicion based on facts the officer can articulate.” While there was a line of North Carolina cases holding that a stop for a readily observable traffic stop must be supported by probable cause, those cases have been overruled. See State v. Styles, 362 N.C. 412 (2008). The stop depicted in the video is based on failure to stop at a stop sign, an infraction. G.S. 20-158(b)(1). The officer was justified in making the stop; I didn’t even see the car’s brake lights come on as the driver rolled through the stop sign and made a right turn. An officer might choose to give a warning rather than a citation as no cars or people were around and the driving wasn’t particularly risky, but the decision is up to the officer.
Stoplight YellowThe duty to answer the stopping officer’s questions: The officer tells viewers, “Answer any questions the officer may have fully and clearly.” This directive gives me pause. Under North Carolina law, a person operating a motor vehicle must identify himself or herself when requested by an officer (or, for that matter, when requested by any other person in the event of an accident). G.S. 20-29. Unlike some other states, North Carolina has not enacted “stop and identify” statutes when a person is not operating a motor vehicle. See In re D.B., 214 N.C. App. 489, 495 (2011). However, the North Carolina Court of Appeals has held that the failure to identify oneself during a lawful stop can constitute resisting an officer when it hinders the officer in issuing a citation or otherwise completing the stop. State v. Friend, ___ N.C. App. ___, 768 S.E.2d 146, 148 (2014) (trial court properly denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss the charge of resisting, delaying, or obstructing an officer where the defendant, a passenger, refused to provide the officer with his identification so that the officer could issue a citation for a seatbelt violation). The court recognized that Fifth Amendment protections may justify a refusal to provide one’s identity in some circumstances, but didn’t provide examples. Id.
Beyond identifying oneself and providing license and registration, the law does not require a motorist to answer questions. While a driver may want to answer an officer’s questions to expedite the stop, he or she has the right to remain silent. See Berkemer v. McCarty, 468 U.S. 420, 439 (1984). Further, if the officer’s questions are unrelated to the purpose of the stop, prolong it, and are not supported by reasonable suspicion of a crime, they may violate the 4th amendment. Rodriguez v. United States, ___ U.S. ___, 135 S. Ct. 1609 (2015); see also U.S. v. Guijon-Ortiz, 660 F.3d 757 (4th Cir. 2010) (police questioning may exceed the permissible scope of the stop where officer abandons prosecution of traffic stop and embarks on another course of investigation). For example, an officer may not extend a routine traffic stop to ask questions about drug activity.
Generally, Miranda protections don’t apply to questioning of a motorist during a routine traffic stop because the motorist isn’t in custody. Berkemer v. McCarty, 468 U.S. 420, 440 (1984). However, Miranda warnings are required if the officer arrests the driver or takes actions that constitute the functional equivalent of an arrest.
Stoplight RedConsent searches: In the video, after the infraction has been addressed and the traffic stop completed, the officer seeks consent to extend the interaction: “Sir, at this point, you’re free to leave, but what I’d like to do with your permission is just have you step to the rear of your car and just talk with you for a few more minutes.” The driver is agreeable: “OK, sure, that’s no problem.” The officer then asks for permission to pat down the driver’s clothing and search his car.
As the video only depicts consent searches that take place after the stop has ended, there is no discussion of the legal justification that is required to support a frisk of an occupant or search of a car before a stop has ended, or the constitutional limitations on extending a stop and continuing to detain a person once the purpose of the stop has been completed, described in this recent post. See also Jeff Welty, Traffic Stops (2015); 1 North Carolina Defender Manual Ch. 15 (Stops and Warrantless Searches) (2d ed. 2013). In addition, while the narrator states that a motorist has the right to permit or refuse a vehicle search, the action suggests the right thing to do is consent; after all, this is a video demonstrating steps that motorists should follow in order to stay safe, as the narrator indicated at the outset.
As we describe in the manual Raising Issues of Race in North Carolina Criminal Cases (in section 2.7C), consent searches during traffic stops have become increasingly commonplace and officers have broad discretion in deciding who to ask for such consent. Concerns about misuse of this discretion for racial profiling have prompted some states to pass legislation banning the use of consent searches. See The Fourth Amendment and Antidilution: Confronting the Overlooked Function of the Consent Search Doctrine, 119 Harv. L. Rev. 2187, 2187–88 (2006). Questions have been raised about whether motorists actually believe they can decline an officer’s request to consent; some citizens who are confronted with an armed, uniformed officer may feel that submission is compulsory. In North Carolina, to ensure that motorists understand they have the right to decline, some police departments now have a policy that officers must obtain a driver’s signature on a consent form when seeking consent to search. In October 2014, Durham became the second city in the state (following Fayetteville) to adopt a written consent form policy. For data about the impact of this change, see Frank R. Baumgartner, Derek A. Epp, and Kelsey Shoub, Summary of Durham Stops and Searches Before and After Written Consent Policy Reform of October 1, 2014 at p. 4 (2015) (finding that consent searches declined substantially in the first six months after the policy went into effect; however, a corresponding increase occurred in probable cause searches, resulting in no change in search rates during traffic stops overall).
To name the elephant in the reel, the video portrays an African American man being stopped for a minor traffic offense who behaves in a courteous and cooperative manner throughout the encounter. Nonetheless, a backup unit is called, he is asked to get out of his car, he is subjected to a pat down, and he is instructed to sit on the curb with his legs extended and his hands on his knees while his car is searched. Giving the RPD the benefit of the doubt, the action may unfold in this way because the Department wanted to show the range of police actions that may follow a traffic stop. Nonetheless, this dramatization merits a red light to stop and consider the issues, especially in light of data from approximately 13 million North Carolina traffic stops indicating that, compared to White motorists, Black and Latino motorists and passengers are almost twice as likely to be searched following a traffic stop. See Frank R. Baumgartner & Derek Epp, North Carolina Traffic Stop Statistics Analysis: Final Report to the North Carolina Advocates for Justice Task Force on Racial and Ethnic Bias at p. 5 (2012).
Stoplight GreenContacting Internal Affairs: The video ends by encouraging members of the community to contact the RPD Internal Affairs Unit (led by the narrator Captain Bruce) with any complaints about discourteous or inappropriate conduct by officers, and it provides contact information. This is an important public service announcement as many citizens may believe that they have no recourse when an officer fails to follow the law and departmental policies. Results of internal affairs investigations may be discoverable in some cases and may help determine whether a particular officer has selectively enforced the law, e.g., in deciding which motorists to stop or search. See Raising Issues of Race § 2.3D (discussing this issue). I therefore end by giving a green light to the RPD for “taking the Police Department’s integrity and [the Internal Affairs Unit’s] role in helping to preserve it seriously.”

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Failure to Yield to Pedestrian

Kisslinglaw treats these cases like any other accident and has been able to get them dismissed. According to Fox News,
Pedestrian deaths surged by an estimated 10 percent last year as the economy improved, the price of gas plunged and motorists put more miles behind the wheel than ever before, according to an analysis of preliminary state traffic fatality data.
The growing use of cellphones distracting drivers and walkers may also be partially to blame, states a report released by the Governors Highway Safety Association, which represents governors' highway safety offices. Warmer weather and shorter winters along with a greater awareness of health benefits may also be encouraging people to walk more.
"This is really sobering news," said Richard Retting, co-author of the report. "Pedestrian safety is clearly a growing problem across the country."
The data analyzed were from the first half of 2015. If the trend holds true for the full year, it would be the largest year-to-year increase in pedestrian deaths since 1975 when the current federal system for recording traffic deaths was created.
The report is based on state traffic fatality figures, extrapolated for the full year by researchers at Sam Schwartz Consulting, which specializes in transportation matters.
There were 2,368 pedestrians killed in the first six months of 2015, compared to 2,232 during the same period in 2014 — a six percent increase. Researchers arrived at a 10 percent increase for the entire year by factoring in that fatalities for the first half of the year are typically underreported, and that for at least the last five years an average of 25 percent more pedestrian deaths were recorded in the second half of the year, which includes warmer summer months, Retting said.
Total traffic deaths, which had been trending downward for the past decade, were also up an estimated 8 percent last year. But pedestrian fatalities have been rising since 2005, and now account for 15 percent of total traffic deaths. The last time pedestrian deaths accounted for that large a share of traffic deaths was 25 years ago.
Nearly three-quarters of pedestrian deaths occur after dark, and a third of those killed had been drinking alcohol, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data. By comparison, about 15 percent of motorists involved in those crashes had a blood alcohol content at the legal limit or higher.
Four large population states — California, Florida, Texas and New York — accounted for 42 percent of the pedestrian deaths in the first six months of 2015. States with the highest rate of pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 residents were scattered across the country — Florida, 1.35; Arizona, 1.27; Delaware, 1.27; South Carolina, 1.12; Mississippi, 1.07; Oregon, 1.04, and New Mexico, 1.01. The District of Columbia also tied Oregon for the sixth highest rate, 1.04.
In a related issue, the Amalgamated Transit Union, which represents city bus drivers, estimates that roughly one pedestrian is killed every 10 days by a city bus because of blind spots in poorly designed buses. Wide "A pillars," which connect the windshield to the driver's side window, and poorly placed side mirrors frequently obstruct drivers' view of intersections, according to the union.
"Until the industry demands a change in the design of buses to remove the unnecessary blind spots like European buses, people will continue to die in these preventable accidents," said Larry Hanley, the union's president.