Report: California’s Driver’s License Suspensions for Unpaid Tickets Impacting People with Lower Income

Report California’s Driver’s License Suspensions for Unpaid Tickets Impacting People with Lower IncomeDangerous driving behaviors don’t just result in accidents. Getting caught red-handed by California traffic authorities usually result in the issuance of tickets and having to pay certain fines and penalties. Indeed, whenever a driver commits a violation, points are added to his or her driving record. For instance, a point is assigned to someone ticketed for making an unsafe lane change or got involved in an at-fault accident. Two points are assigned to someone ticketed for driving recklessly, leaving the scene of the accident without stopping (hit-and-run), driving under the influence, or driving while his or her driver’s license is either suspended or revoked.

Also, whenever a driver is ticketed for either an infraction or a misdemeanor offense, he or she has the option to pay the ticket (pay the corresponding fine) or contest it (appear in court). But then, not all drivers are able to pay the fine on time due to financial constraints. What happens is that more penalties and fines are imposed, including the potential of getting their driver’s licenses suspended. The ongoing policy of license suspensions for unpaid tickets, however, have been seen as disproportionately impacting people with lower income, as a recent report released last April 8, 2015 showed.

According to the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights (LCCR) of the San Francisco Bay Area, which is responsible for the said report, an estimated 4.2 million drivers in California—accounting to 1 in 6 drivers—“do not have valid driver’s license because they cannot afford to pay traffic fines and fees.” Titled “Not Just a Ferguson Problem: How Traffic Courts Drive Inequality in California,” this report comes right after the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division released its own findings regarding Ferguson, Missouri courts and law enforcement agencies and how their similar practice of suspending driver’s licenses for unpaid tickets disparately affects not just low-income individuals, but also people of color.

The situation in California goes like this: whenever an individual fails to appear in court (when fighting the ticket) or pay the fine (when paying the ticket), his or her driver’s license is suspended. Not only that, but an additional $300 civil assessment is added to the total amount of the fine. Thus the impact of court-ordered debt and license suspensions; since driver’s licenses are become a requirement in low- and middle-income jobs, drivers with suspended licenses cannot possibly do work, let alone pay whatever’s needed to be paid in fines and penalties.

Even if they do pay on a monthly basis, they stop paying, knowing that they cannot claim back their license. As a result, the State of California has an uncollected court-ordered debt of over $10 billion, according to the recently released figures from the Legislative Analyst’s Office.

Meanwhile, the report also proposed certain solutions, primarily the call to end the practice of suspending driver’s licenses “as a collection tool for citation-related debt.” In addition, the report also suggested that the fines being enforced be lowered by half, as well as the court base the assessment of the fines based on the violators’ ability to pay.

New NHTSA Survey Reveals Widespread Use of Cell Phones, Electronic Devices While Driving

texting while drivingThe month of April is the National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. As such, every traffic safety agency and advocate, especially the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), is urging motorists to focus more on their driving and become fully aware of the dangers of driving while being distracted with the use of phones and other electronic devices.

In fact, the NHTSA, as a way to further showcase the dangers of distracted driving and at the same time educate the people about how they can avoid it, kicked off the month-long awareness drive by releasing new survey results showing that majority of the Americans still use electronic devices while driving amidst the continuous warnings from the federal traffic agency.

The 2011 National Occupation Protection Use Survey revealed that all over America, around 660,000 drivers either tinker on their cell phones or fidget on electronic devices while driving at any given daylight moment. The said figure was relatively the same as the previous year. Notably, other NHTSA data revealed that about 387,000 people were injured in distracted driving-related crashes in 2011 and more than 3,300 were killed.

The survey data, which was first revealed via a press statement from the NHTSA released today, was a collation of obtained statistics from the 2012 Distracted Driving Attitudes and Behaviors Survey and the 2011 National Occupation Protection Use Survey on Driver Electronic Use. In other highlights from the survey data, the 2012 National Survey on Distracted Driving Attitudes and Behaviors revealed that 74 percent of respondent-drivers support hand-held cell phone use ban, while 94 percent of them likewise support the texting ban.

Department of Transportation Sec. Ray LaHood described distracted driving as “a serious and deadly epidemic on America’s roadways.” He went on to say that “powering down your cell phone when you’re behind the wheel can save lives – maybe even your own.”

Right now, a total of 39 U.S. states, including the District of Columbia, disallow texting while driving for all drivers. Moreover, 10 states plus the District of Columbia ban using handheld cell phones and other devices while behind the wheel.

In line with this month’s events, the Department of Transportation reminds drivers to turn off electronic devices and putting them out of reach before taking on the road, as well as to use safety seat belts all the time. Meanwhile, every Los Angeles auto accident attorney supports this awareness campaign on the federal level, hoping that the accidents caused by distracted driving will lessen, if not fully eradicated.

‘LOL’ Facebook Post following Car Accident Sends Woman in Jail

A Kentucky woman was shocked upon learning that a simple ‘laugh out loud’ (LOL) Facebook post after a hit-and-run car accident would land her in jail.

According to reports, Paula Asher rammed her vehicle into another car carrying four minors in Woodford County, Kentucky last July 20. Asher immediately fled from the accident scene before authorities arrived.

Shortly thereafter, she posted in her Facebook account: “My dumb bass got a DUI and I hit a car.. Lol!” The said teens’ parents saw the said post and subsequently told the court about it. The said post has led authorities to determine that Asher was the missing suspect for the hit-and-run incident.

Consequently, Asher was required to appear on court and during her first appearance, the presiding judge told her to deactivate her Facebook account. However, Asher did not take the judge’s order seriously and ignored it instead.

Therefore, her initial hit-and-run, driving under the influence of intoxicating substance, and possession of controlled substance cases were subsequently joined by another charge of contempt of court.

In her second court appearance, Asher was booked in county jail for 48 hours and in her third arraignment, she confirmed that she had shut down her Facebook account. Also, she asked for an apology for all the people that she has hurt. Recently, Asher reportedly appeared in court but further details regarding the trial were not yet available.

This is another one of a kind case of hit-and-run car accident to keep track of, according to a Los Angeles automobile accident attorney. Until present, laws regarding the virtual world remain vague and awaiting to be addressed properly, he added.

5-year-old Girls Killed in Car Crash Caused by Drunk Driver

At least two 5-year-old girls were reportedly killed from a car crash caused by a woman who was driving under the influence.

Accordingly, reports said that Arlene Anna Hernandez, 22, was driving eastbound while under the influence when she lost control of the 2005 Kia Sedona that she was driving due to her extreme level of intoxication. The minivan fell down the embankment and then landed upside down in the Otay Lake reservoir.

Meanwhile, Hernandez and the man on the passenger seat of the minivan were able to extricate themselves from the vehicle while the two 5-year-old girls at the backseat were only extricated through the help of civilians and other U.S. Border Patrol agents in the area while the paramedics were on their way to the accident scene.

The children were airlifted to Rady Children’s hospital. However, shortly upon hospital arrival, the two minors were pronounced dead. Investigations identified the man on the passenger’s side as Eric Figueroa, while one of the children who died from the incident was identified as Guilana Figueroa, daughter of Eric. Both were residents of La Mesa.

The other girl was identified as Lesette Silva of Chula Vista, but her relation to the other passengers, if any, was not yet determined.

Meanwhile, Hernandez was jailed and being held on a $400,000.00 bail. She will be facing charges, including four counts of felony, gross vehicular manslaughter, cruelty to minor resulting to injury/death, and driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol/drugs resulting to personal injury.

Basically, car crashes occur as a result of the negligence and irresponsibility of drivers who fail to follow proper rules and regulations while on the roadways. Most often, accidents were caused by stubborn individuals driving under the influence.

Over the years, a Los Angeles automobile accident attorney in fact has been a witness to the significantly growing number of people being injured or killed each year due to drunk drivers.

Number of Auto Accidents Fatalities Involving Teens Peaks Every Fourth of July

Every Fourth of July, statistics show that traffic fatalities spike up to highest levels.

Aside from being accountable for the highest overall traffic fatalities in the country, Independence Day brings with it an average of approximately 140 auto accident deaths every year. It is likewise the deadliest day for both teen drivers and passengers.

In fact, about 10 percent of all fatalities during the Fourth of July are teens, according to the American Automobile Association, Inc. (AAA). Therefore, the agency encourages parents to restrict or at least limit their teens’ driving privileges.

The warning came to light upon the Congressional approval of the transportation bill that would provide financial incentives to states that provide graduated licensing programs.

Comprehensive graduated licensing laws slowly and efficiently educate teens to more complex driving situations, and significantly reduce their accident risk. Incidentally, previous studies have revealed that accidents among teen drivers in states that have a comprehensive graduated license law decreased by up to 38 percent.

On the other hand, Jonathan Adkins of the Governors Highway Safety Association affirmed that Congress has set such strict requirements up to the extent that only few states may qualify for the privileges.

Car accidents involving teenage drivers are now earning serious concerns due to the significant increase from previous years’ figures, which is in fact the first time in eight years that the numbers have become alarmingly high.

Fatal auto accidents involving teens’ record-keeping actually began way back in 1949. In 2011, the lowest number of accident deaths was recorded.

In a study conducted between 2006 and 2010 by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, the U.S. Independence Day ranked first place as the deadliest day of the year, having an average number of 140deaths, followed by September 26 with an average number of 129 deaths. Next is August 2, having an average number of 125 deaths.

Authorities believe that the said increase in traffic fatalities are mainly due to holiday celebrations when school is off, offices are closed, and more people are on the road.  Furthermore, drinking and driving during the nationwide celebration was also seen as another factor to the accidents.

Out of the overall number of traffic fatalities during the Fourth of July, 39 percent of it accounts for drunk drivers, while 31 percent accounts for normal drivers, declared the Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Aside from the poor quality of automobiles due to the rise of aesthetic and entertainment devices in the car, driving under the influence and the lack of comprehensive knowledge on driving are also seen as factors that contribute to the rise in auto accidents during holidays, particularly every Fourth of July. Therefore, several personal injury lawyers appreciate every effort exerted by some organizations and government agencies in reducing the number of traffic fatalities.

U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson under Investigation for 2 Consecutive Road Mishaps

The U.S. Commerce Secretary is currently under investigation for the two hit-and-run accidents that occurred near his California home last weekend.

According to a statement released by the Commerce Department spokesperson, Jennifer Friedman, the investigation regarding the incidents is ongoing.

According to the Southern California police, Bryson was found unconscious behind the wheel of his Lexus car on Saturday after crashing into one car twice and then crashing again into another.

The Commerce Department office said that the secretary had suffered a seizure during the accident. He was accordingly driving his own car on his personal time with no security escorts at the time of the vehicle accidents.

Nevertheless, Bryson still remains to be cooperative with the investigation and in fact, he voluntarily took a breathalyzer test after the crash, and took an immediate medical leave of absence so that he can focus all his attention on resolving the traffic incidents as well as his health issues. So far, alcohol and drug is not a factor to the incidents according to police. Bryson also underwent a blood test but the result is not yet available.

Since October 2011, Bryson has served President Barack Obama as secretary of Commerce. He is also an energy expert and seasoned businessman. On Saturday, at about 5:05 in the evening, Bryson reportedly rear-ended a Buick in San Gabriel and then hit the car again upon leaving the scene. Five minutes later after the first crash, Bryson again hit another car, a Honda Accord in Rosemead, California.

Bryson was treated at the accident scene and was later transported to the hospital. Passengers on the second car did not sustain major injuries and declined medical aid. However, two people from the first car accident were treated by paramedics after complaining of pain.

At present, the Los Angeles police have formally cited Bryson in the traffic incidents. However, the local district’ attorney’s office will decide whether criminal charges will be filed against Bryson.

A causative factor of personal injury, automobile accidents occur due to negligence of both or one of the involved parties. Sometimes, unexpected event also occurs and collisions occur for no obvious reason like Brysons’ case wherein he apparently suffered from seizure during the accident, according to a Los Angeles automobile accident attorney. Most automobile accidents can be avoided if only proper precautionary measures are observed carefully.

New California Bill Increases Fines for Distracted Driving

In a bill drafted by Senator Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, the fine for unlawful use of hand held devices could increase from $20 to $30 dollars.

The said bill, which was approved by the California State Senate last Monday, would increase the current fee of $159 to at least $199 for first offenders once court fees are collected.

For subsequent offense, the fee would increase from $50 to $60 and the actual cost to drivers would increase up to $371 for each additional offense since a driver’s records would also be a factor for additional fees.

The bill would also cover bicyclists. They would be required to pay a $20 fine if they are caught texting or talking while on the road.

The bill aims to fund the driver’s education program aside from preventing further auto-related accidents.

Although lawmakers like Gov. Jerry Brown and Sen. Doug La Malfa, R-Willows, vetoed the said bill, advocates are still pushing for it to become a new law in California.

In a study conducted by the University of California, researchers found out a significant decrease in the number of deaths among drivers using handheld devices in the past two years after the ban on such gadgets was implemented. The number of fatalities, which was 100 a couple of years ago, fell into 53 this year while the number of injuries dropped significantly — from 7,720 to 3,862.

In another survey, 40% of drivers admitted that they have been avoiding cell phones use while behind the wheels since the ban had been enforced.

On the other hand, a Los Angeles auto accident attorney, in reaction with the said survey, agrees with Sen. Simitian that such idea is a good concept not only for avoiding traffic fatalities but also for creating a much closer family ties. Drivers who are prevented from talking to their spouses and other family members would definitely talk a lot of things over family dinner, such as what each of them had missed through the day.