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May 2014

Learn what Is happening with motor vehicle & law enforcement agencies across the country.

 

 

Region I

New York cracks down on unpaid tolls

In his new budget proposal, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is making it clear that he wants the state to punish drivers who don’t pay tolls. He proposes the creation of a new authority to pursue the collection of unpaid toll dollars in the state. If these motorists are caught and don’t pay up, they can say goodbye to their vehicle registrations. That’s a pretty harsh punishment, seeing as it’s against state law to drive an unregistered vehicle.

Since 2008, toll cheats have racked up $156,686,769 in unpaid tolls, interest and penalties. Eighty-seven percent of these unpaid tolls are owed to the Port Authority, which operates the Lincoln and Holland tunnels—both of which cost drivers $13 to pass through.

The Henry Hudson Bridge between Manhattan and The Bronx has seen a spike in unpaid tolls since it went on the honor system in November 2012. According to the New York Post, records show the amount owed in missing tolls skyrocketed from $749,549 in 2012 to $3,250,945 last year.

Region II

New Alabama law will increase access to ignition interlock for drunk drivers

A new Alabama law seeks to make ignition interlock available for more citizens arrested for drunk driving. While ignition interlock installation has been a possibility for drunk drivers arrested in Alabama since 2011, this law seeks to increase the number of drivers who can opt to use the device. Under this law, first-time offenders and drivers arrested with a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher can be given the device.

The device is an alternative to a driver’s license suspension, so those using it can still drive. However, the driver must be able to pay for the device to qualify. There will be a fund set up for those who can’t afford the payment, which will be filled with fines paid by other drunk drivers.

State Rep. Allen Farley, who co-authored the bill, told WBRC News that he expects this law to decrease the number of drunk driving-related deaths in Alabama. He pointed to statistics that show other states that have taken similar action, like Arizona, show a 40 percent decrease in these types of accidents.

Region III

Ohio proposal for enhanced driver’s licenses causes controversy

Ohio lawmakers are considering a proposal that would make Ohio the sixth state to endorse and use enhanced licenses. These licenses are fitted with a radio frequency identification (RFID) chip that will aid crossings at the Canada and Mexico borders by offering an alternative to passports. Border control officers will be able to read drivers’ information up to 30 feet away from the license itself due to these chips.

While the convenience and flexibility of these enhanced licenses is championed by supporters like Ohio State Rep. Rex Damschroder, for others the storing of personal data on a chip that can be remotely accessed seems ripe for abuse. Gary Daniels of the American Civil Liberties Union expressed concerns to Cleveland.com that the licenses could be used by authorities to track drivers’ locations and by hackers to access sensitive private information.

Region IV

California man fights texting-while-driving with billboard campaign

San Francisco-based graphic designer Brian Singer is taking the texting-while-driving epidemic into his own hands with a project he calls Texting While in Traffic (which shortens to the not very subtle ‘TWIT’). Singer takes photos of distracted drivers and then posts the pictures on one of 11 billboards he has paid for throughout San Francisco.

Singer told the website Gizmodo.com that his hope with these billboards is to shame drivers into stopping this dangerous activity. He started the campaign because he was “blown away” by the amount of people he saw texting.

The billboards contain no text and exclusively feature photos of the distracted drivers, either taken by Singer himself or provided to him by others. Keeping with the spirit of his campaign, Singer does not take photos while he is driving and will not accept submissions taken while driving. The billboard photos can also be seen on his website, twitspotting.com