Utah House passes bill requiring ignition locks for repeat drunken drivers

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – The Utah House has approved a bill that would require special ignition locks on vehicles used by motorists convicted of a second drunken-driving offense within a six-year period.

The bill passed 69-1 Monday and now goes to the Senate.

The ignition locks use a Breathalyzer-type device to determine the blood-alcohol level of the driver before the vehicle can be started.

Judges already have discretion to order use of the vehicle monitors. Rep. Nora Stephens’ House Bill 209 would mandate use of the devices.

The measure would also require a 12-month probation for all first-time offenders, along with substance-addiction dependency screening. It also doubles the impound fee to recover vehicles seized in drunken-driving arrests, from the current $100 to $200.

“We are among the toughest states on drunk driving, but I don’t think we’re the toughest,” said Stephens, R-Sunset. “We’re probably ahead of most states.”

Stephens has sponsored numerous drunken-driving measures in recent years, including failed attempts to lower the legal blood-alcohol content from 0.08 percent to 0.04 percent.

Her latest measure is part of the Republicans’ crime-fighting legislative package.

Rep. David Hogue, R-Riverton, cast the lone vote against the bill. He unsuccessfully attempted to amend the bill to do away with the doubling of vehicle impound fees.

Ignition locks for drunken drivers OK’d by New Jersey Senate

TRENTON — Some drivers in New Jersey might soon find themselves motoring with a high-tech passenger designed to keep all but the most determined drunks off the highway.

The state Senate on Monday unanimously supported a bill that clears the way for use of ignition locks that prevent drunken drivers from starting their cars. The devices — resembling portable breath analyzers such as those used by police — would be wired directly into a car’s electrical system. The Assembly already has approved the bill, which is expected to be signed into law by Governor Whitman.

“This is a major new tool — it will save lives,” said Ron Jakubowski, executive director of the New Jersey chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

What were billed as two other major anti-drunken driving measures also were passed by lawmakers and sent to Whitman’s desk.

The first would make seat belt use the subject of primary enforcement by police officers. Although state law requires all motorists to use seat belts, violations usually are issued only if drivers first are stopped for some other offense.

This measure, which advocates say will save 50 lives a year in New Jersey, enables police to pull over motorists specifically for driving without seat belts. The legislation is targeted at drivers who do not buckle up their children.

“A buckled driver is three times more likely to fasten a child’s seat belt,” said Pam Fischer, a representative of the AAA Clubs of New Jersey. With a rate of 63 percent, New Jersey lags behind the national average in seat belt use, Fischer said.

Also approved Monday in both houses of the Legislature was a bill that would increase penalties for motorists convicted of drunken driving with an underage passenger. The measure, also expected to be signed into law by Whitman, enables authorities to charge drivers in such cases with endangering the welfare of children, a felony.

“Taken together, these three bills passed today represent a major step forward in the fight against drunk driving,” said Frank Winters, a former MADD state chairman and longtime advocate for tougher laws. “We were at a stagnant point in New Jersey for a long time; now we’re making up for that.”

Notably absent from the package was a controversial measure that would have lowered the state’s legal blood-alcohol limit from 0.10 to 0.08. A state Senate committee that studied the issue concluded there was not enough evidence to show that the change would yield substantial benefits.

But advocates of the lower limit argued that it could save hundreds of lives in New Jersey. They cited several studies to support the claim, including research by the Boston University Schools of Public Health that showed an average of 500 lives a year are saved in Massachusetts under the 0.08 limit.

“There’s always next year, ” Winters said.

Even without the lower blood-alcohol limit, the past year has been a banner one for the anti-drunken driving movement. In August, Whitman signed into law a bill that increases penalties for drunken drivers who hit pedestrians in school zones.

The new law was prompted by the death of Filomena Coppola, a popular crossing guard struck and killed on the job in Nutley.

“Filomena’s Law” doubles the fines for drunken driving committed within 1,000 feet of a school, imposing a penalty of $500 to $800 for a first offense and even stiffer fines for repeat offenders. Offenders also face up to 60 days in jail and suspension of driving privileges for up to two years.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are more than one million alcohol-related injuries every year, costing more than $45 billion. While the number of drunken-driving deaths in New Jersey has decreased during the past decade, alcohol still claims more than 200 lives on state highways every year.

If New Jersey adopts use of the ignition locking devices, it would be one of 38 states using or testing the devices, first employed in California 14 years ago.

Under the proposed New Jersey law, only a judge would have the power to assign the ignition lock to offenders and approve payment plans for offenders who cannot afford to rent or buy the device. The locks cost about $67 per month to lease and about $75 to install. Buying and installing one permanently could cost about $1,495.

A 1997 University of Maryland study found repeat drunken driving offenses dropped substantially for motorists using the locks.

Prison Term for DWI No. 21

SANTA FE — Joe Leonard Rael, Santa Fe’s infamous drunken driver, pleaded guilty to his 21st DWI charge Monday and received the maximum sentence allowed by law — 18 months in a New Mexico prison.

State District Judge Michael Vigil said in his sentencing remarks that the “only silver lining” to Rael’s case is that the Legislature may now enact tougher prison terms for repeat DWI offenders.

“I think that’s the best possible thing that will come out of this case,” Vigil said.

Unlike other crimes where repeat offenders face longer prison terms under habitual sentencing guidelines, drunken drivers like Rael with multiple convictions are exempt from such sentencing laws.

Since 1997, the New Mexico chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving has used Rael’s case to exemplify the lack of tougher penalties for repeat DWI offenders in the state and also to rally support among state lawmakers for stricter DWI laws.

In a plea agreement with the 1st Judicial District Attorney’s Office, Rael, 46, on Monday also pleaded guilty to driving on a suspended license and obtaining a fictitious license by using his dead brother’s birth certificate.

He received an additional 18 months on those two charges for a total of about 3 1/2 years in prison.

Rael was arrested Oct. 19, 1999, after he drove to a Cerrillos Road gas station and stumbled out of his vehicle to buy gas. A Santa Fe police officer inside the gas station store observed Rael, whose blood-alcohol level at the time measured .25 percent.

Dressed in a brown jail uniform and his hands chained to a waist shackle, Rael disputed media and prosecutors’ reports that he has 21 DWI convictions, but said nothing about his current conviction.

Rael made the remarks after Vigil asked him if he had anything to say before hearing his sentence imposed.

Prosecutors located actual court documents showing eight prior DWI convictions against Rael. Documents on other convictions were destroyed by the courts.

However, the state Motor Vehicle Division records show 20 prior DWI convictions against Rael.

Prosecutor Richard Salazar told the judge that his office could find records on eight prior DWI convictions against Rael.

However, Rael has four DWI convictions in the 1970s, 12 in the 1980s and four in the 1990s, Salazar said.

In asking to impose the maximum sentence on all three charges, Salazar said that in Rael’s 27-year DWI history, he has attended six different treatment programs, but apparently nothing has worked.

Rael drove in absolute defiance of the criminal justice system, Salazar said.

Steve Aarons, Rael’s court-appointed attorney, told the judge his client is a good person who suffers from alcoholism.

Vigil said he understood Rael suffers from a disease but showed no signs of rehabilitating himself.

“Drink yourself to death, but why do you insist on driving and why do you want to endanger others? That’s the part I don’t understand,” the judge asked Rael.

Saying he won’t give up on him yet, Vigil also ordered Rael to undergo one-year residential treatment once he’s released on parole.

Nadine Milford, president of MADD, said Rael’s case ironically helped bring the issue of tougher DWI laws to the forefront.

“I am hoping after today this man gets it and everybody in the state gets it that we’re not going to tolerate this in the state,” Milford said.

She said she spoke to Gov. Gary Johnson last week and he assured her he would include enhanced sentencing laws for repeated DWI offenders in his crime package. Diane Kinderwater, spokeswoman for Johnson, said a provision for tougher DWI laws will be made public in a crime package on Thursday.

Johnson has said he has always supported tougher guidelines to crack down on repeat DWI offenders and would probably sign such a measure if it were presented to him.

Meanwhile, Rael’s son, Joe Rael Jr. was arrested on suspicion of his 9th DWI on New Year’s Day in Santa Fe.

Rael Jr., 26, of Santa Fe, has been charged with felony DWI, driving with suspended license, no proof of insurance and concealing his identity, according to Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Department reports.

The younger Rael was on probation from his previous DWI conviction when he was arrested again on suspicion of drunken driving. He is being held at the Santa Fe County Jail pending a hearing on his probation violation.

Southeast Michigan Guardianship Attorney

If you’re concerned about the declining ability of an aging parent to look after his or her own interests due to illness or incapacity, Michigan guardianship lawyer Michael Muma can advise you about the procedures and evidence involved in the difficult guardianship process. It can be expensive and it’s usually intrusive. As a last resort for protecting the health or financial interests of persons who can no longer care for themselves, however, guardianship can represent an effective legal solution to a difficult family problem. Contact us in Plymouth for a free consultation and advice about your specific situation. Also contact bankruptcy specialists, if need any bankruptcy help.
In Michigan, guardianship refers to a court order for protecting the health and person of a vulnerable individual or minor, while conservatorship refers to the judicial protection of the property of an incapacitated person or minor. The case begins with a petition filed by the next of kin or someone who lives with the person for whom guardianship is sought. The court appoints a guardian ad litem to investigate the allegations of legal incompetence and the nature and extent of the need for the protection of a guardian or conservator. The guardian ad litem’s report and recommendation to the probate court is usually the main factor in the judge’s decision whether or not to appoint a guardian.
Less controversially, guardianship is also ordered upon the death of a minor child’s parents, and is often granted upon application when a developmentally disabled child becomes a legal adult. In cases where a minor child inherits property or is awarded personal injury damages in his or her own name, a conservatorship will be appropriate for the responsible management of the property or damages award.
Sound estate planning can often avoid the difficulties and expense involved in guardianship proceedings. A durable power of attorney can provide for the protection of a person’s financial interests in the event of incapacity, and can eliminate the need for a guardianship petition. Similarly, the parents of minor children can designate a guardian in their will in the event of both parents’ death, and a special needs trust can address the welfare of developmentally disabled children in adulthood.

Estate Planning FAQ

1.  How often should I review or revise my estate plan?

The precise answer to that question depends upon each person’s unique circumstances.  We generally advise clients that they should review their estate planning documents approximately every five years.  But that is only a rough estimate.  Things like the birth of a child, the death of a spouse, or the receipt of substantial inheritance should prompt one to review a plan more often.  Additionally, in the case of taxable estates, generally over $1.5 million, tax law changes should prompt more frequent reviews.

2.  What is the difference between a guardianship and a durable power of attorney?

A guardianship is a probate court process in which the court appoints a guardian (and/or a conservator) to safeguard the affairs of one who is under a legal disability.  It is nearly always initiated by a family member retaining an attorney to petition the court for the appointment. It always requires a court hearing in which a judge decides whether a guardian is needed and, if so, who should be appointed.  A durable power of attorney is an instrument used to avoid guardianship.  We all have the right to execute a durable power of attorney in which we appoint an agent (and possibly successors) and enumerate what powers we give to the agent. The durable power of attorney, then, effectively replaces guardianship and avoids court involvement.

3.  If I feel strongly about cremation what should I do to assure that my wishes are followed?

Michigan, like many other states, has a system you might at first find objectionable.  We can’t, per se, dictate how our burial or cremation will be handled, not even in a last will and testament.  Michigan law grants to our nearest next-of-kin the right to specify how to dispose of our remains.  That said, however, if you prefer cremation we suggest you so direct that in your last will and testament.  It will reassure your loved ones that cremation is your preference, and in the absence of family members it will allow a funeral director to make the arrangements you desire.

4.  Does an estate need to be large to justify a living trust?  Should it be of a certain minimum size?

The short answer is that no, it does not need to be large.  Even small estates can benefit from trusts.  But we should mention that size does matter where taxes are concerned.  If your goal is to avoid probate and make your estate as easy as possible to administer, a trust is an excellent choice.  You can retain total control over your home and assets (unlike the situation with joint ownership) while still avoiding probate when you pass away.  On the other hand, trusts will have no effect on estate or inheritance taxes in most estates of less than $1.5 million. Currently, estates of less than that size are generally exempt from both Federal and Michigan estate tax.  Since no estate tax would be due, a trust wouldn’t change anything.

Important note:  Federal estate taxes are mid-way through a period of change.  The current exemption will gradually grow until 2010.  For death occurring after January 1, 2011, however, the exemption drops back to $1.0 million.  Michigan estate tax is scheduled to follow the Federal exemption, but Gov. Granholm has recently proposed an immediate return to the $1.0 million exemption.

5.  If I have a living trust do I still need a will?

Yes, our office always prepares wills and trusts as a package.  We generally refer to a will in these circumstances as a “pour-over will”. Even with a trust, your will is written to accomplish three distinct goals.  It leaves express instructions to your executor about what assets, or group of assets, to use to pay estate taxes, if any.  It disposes of your personal and household possessions.  And it directs your executor to transfer, or “pour-over,” to your trust any other assets left solely in your name.  That could be a savings bond or other security you never transferred to your trust, or it could be a refund or lawsuit proceeds accruing because of your death.

Iowa DUI Laws

In the state of Iowa, if you get caught drinking and driving you face multiple fines and stiff penalties and may need a Shreveport criminal lawyer. All DUI or “Operating Under the Influence (OWI)” convictions in the state carry jail time, license suspension, and court ordered substance abuse treatment. The state of Iowa wants to reduce the number of fatal traffic accidents on its roads by preventing people from drinking and driving. To help decrease the number of fatal alcohol-related car crashes from 142 (2007) down to zero, state of Iowa DUI laws are strictly enforced for first offenses and enhanced for multiple offendses. Multiple DUI offenders in the state of Iowa will end up with a felony record – a record that could follow you for the rest of your life.

What is the blood alcohol content level (BAC) limit in the state of Iowa?

In the state of Iowa, it is a crime to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content level (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. Sentence enhancements exist for cases involving a BAC of 0.15% or higher.

In the state of Iowa what is the administrative license suspension period for a first offense?

In the state of Iowa, if you get arrested for DUI, the administrative license suspension time for a first offense is 6 months. The courts may allow you to apply for limited license after 90 days. If your BAC was 0.15% or higher at the time of arrest, you cannot apply for a limited license.

In the state of Iowa, what are the penalties for a first DUI offense? Second offense?

If you get convicted of OWI and you are a first offender, you will go to jail for a minimum of 48 hours up to 12 months. You will also have to enroll in a substance abuse program or undergo a substance abuse evaluation. For a second offense, you will go to jail for a minimum of 7 days up to 24 months. Your license will be suspended for 24 months. For third and fourth offenses, you will be charged with a class D felony. You will spend no less than 30 days in jail up to 5 years and your license will be suspended for up to 6 years.



Iowa (IA) Teen Auto Insurance Laws, Rates & Requirements

Male teen drivers currently represent the highest risk group of drivers on the roads today. Female teen drivers are the second highest risk group. Each year, more than 400,000 teen drivers are involved in car crashes and more than 5,000 are fatal. The state of Iowa believes that a combination of inexperience and overconfidence are the leading causes of fatal car crashes in the state. Iowa also points its finger at technology, such as mobile communication devices, MP3 players, text messaging, and sensor technology.

In the state of Iowa, young adults, ages 14-24 represent 17% of the drivers on the road, but they account for 40% of all fatal and serious traffic injuries, such as having injury attorneys in Arizona. To successfully address these issues, on January 1, 1999 the state of Iowa began enforcing the Iowa Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) law. Within the first two years, the state saw a 27% decrease in teen traffic violations and a 10% decrease in teen car crashes. The GDL process is rigorous and the penalties for violating the rules involved are stiff. Continue reading to learn more about Iowa’s teen driving laws and the consequences for violating them. Also you can learn more about Employment law, experience in dealing with similar cases.

Iowa Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) and Driver License Requirements

Iowa Graduated Licensing (GDL) occurs in three phases: instruction permit, intermediate license, and full license.

To obtain an instruction permit, you must be at least 14 years of age and pass a vision screening test and knowledge test. You must also provide the following documentation to the Iowa Department of Motor Vehicles:

•    Proof of identity
•    Social security card
•    Written consent of a parent or legal guardian

Once you receive your instruction permit, you must hold it for six months. During that time, you must complete 20 hours of supervised driving. Two hours must be between sunset and sunrise. You must also complete an Iowa approved or comparable driver education course to include:

•    30 hours of classroom instruction, which must include 4 hours of substance abuse education
•    6 laboratory hours (3 must be behind the wheel)

Your instruction permit will be stamped “under eighteen,” so you must follow the laws associated with your “under eighteen” status. In addition, your parent will not have the option to waive behind-the-wheel-drive time.

To obtain your intermediate license, you must be at least 16 years of age and meet all requirements of the instruction permit. You must also provide the DMV with written consent of a parent or legal guardian. Under the requirements and laws of the intermediate license, you must:

•    Hold the license for 12 months
•    Complete 10 hours of supervised driving, two hours must be between sunset and sunrise
•    Complete supervised driving with a parent, immediate family member over 31, or a designated adult over 25

Your intermediate license will be stamped “under eighteen,” so you must follow the laws associated with your “under eighteen” status, as well as all rules and regulations associated with the intermediate license in order to obtain your full license.

To obtain your full license, you must be 17 years if age and meet all requirements of the intermediate license. Written consent of a parent or legal guardian is also required. For driver’s under age 18, your license will be stamped “under eighteen,” and if you are under 21, your license will have the words “under twenty-one” printed on it. There are no restrictions on full licenses.


Iowa Auto Insurance Laws, Minimums, Requirements

What mandatory auto insurance laws exist in the state of Iowa?

  • The state of Iowa requires all motorists to carry at least the minimum liability auto insurance requirements. These requirements include: bodily injury coverage of $20,000 per person, up to $40,000 for all persons per accident, and $15,000 for property damage coverage caused in an Houston car accident.
  • Because auto insurance is mandatory in the state of Iowa, all motorists must show proof of Iowa auto insurance to peace officers and other sanctioned officers of the state upon request.
  • Iowa’s Financial & Safety Responsibility Act states that reckless and financially unsound drivers can have their operating and registration privileges suspended. Once the license has been suspended, drivers will have to prove financial responsibility for any damages or injuries they caused. This means, you must show proof of liability insurance.

What is the Minimum Liability Coverage (Bodily Injury amounts per person, per accident, and property damage amounts):

If you buy automobile insurance in the state of Iowa, your policy must include minimum liability coverage of the following or you may need to use a baton rouge car accident lawyer:

$20,000 bodily injury coverage per person,
Up to $40,000 bodily injury coverage for all persons per accident,
$15,000 for property damage coverage caused in an at-fault accident

What are the Rental Car Insurance Requirements?

Much like the vast majority of other states, in the state of Iowa rental car companies must provide the state required minimum amount of liability insurance. This will cost you anywhere from $7-$14 a day. If your personal auto insurance policy includes the minimum amounts of coverage for rental cars or your credit card offers coverage, you can waive the car rental company’s coverage by signing a Collision Damage Waiver (CDW).

What are the rules pertaining to Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage?

While the state of Iowa does not require motorists to purchase Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage, auto insurance companies must offer it. Iowa insurance providers will offer collision coverage, comprehensive coverage, and uninsured motorist protection coverage in addition to liability insurance. The state of Iowa highly recommends purchasing additional coverage.

What are the rules pertaining to the exclusion from coverage of a driver living in household?

The state of Iowa does allow auto insurance companies to use Personal Credit History to help determine rates and offers for products. Overall, however, Iowa auto insurance rates are determined by a combination of other factors including age, car type, driving record, location, and marital status. Iowa motorists with better driving records pay less than those with a accidents or tickets.

What are the rules regarding whether a driver has prior insurance? That is, how does state law handle it if a driver has no prior insurance or has let their previous insurance lapse?

If your insurance lapses in the state of Iowa and you are operating a motor vehicle, you are driving without insurance. If you are caught driving without insurance, you will be fined. If you are in an accident and you can’t prove financial responsibility, you will incur fines and your license may be suspended for up to one year.

What are the rules and guidelines auto insurance companies must follow regarding the use of Personal Credit History in selecting applicants and setting rates?

The state of Iowa does allow auto insurance companies to use Personal Credit History to help determine rates and offers for products. Overall, however, Iowa auto insurance rates are determined by a combination of other factors including age, car type, driving record, location, and marital status. Iowa motorists with better driving records pay less than those with a accidents or tickets.

Is the state a No Fault or Tort state? What does either mean to the policy owner?

Iowa follows a Tort liability system, so there are no restrictions on lawsuits. What this also means is, if you are involved in an accident, someone must be found to be the cause or fault of the accident. The person deemed at fault is responsible for all damages. Damages are usually handled through the at-fault person’s insurance company. Because Iowa is a Tort state, most insurance companies recommend that driver’s consider carrying higher coverages than the state minimums.

Indiana Teen Driving Laws and Enforcement

In the state of Indiana, each licensing phase carries restrictions. During all GDL phases, Indiana teens must be accompanied by a licensed driver over the age of 21 at all times. The licensed driver must also be a relative of the licensee. In addition, all passengers in the vehicle must wear seatbelts at all times and if you are under 18 you cannot drive between the hours of  11 p.m. and 6 a.m. Sunday-Thursday or 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. Friday and Saturday. There are exceptions to this rule including:

•    To or from school
•    To or from religious activities
•    To or from a government sponsored or non-profit sponsored activity

Violation of any of these laws will result in a moving violation conviction. This could delay your unrestricted driver’s license if you have not already obtained one or your license could be suspended. Fines will apply as well.  All this is for the sake of avoiding personal injury law.

Indiana Cell Phone Use/Texting While Driving Laws

In the state of Indiana, it is against the law for teens under the age of 19 to use a cell phone while driving. This includes texting and hands free use. If you get caught talking on your phone or texting while driving in the state of Indiana, you will be charged with a class D infraction. The only exceptions to the law are:

•    Emergency situations
•    Operators of authorized emergency vehicles
•    Operator of a medical services vehicle
•    Volunteer firefighters

This law became effective on July 1, 2009. If you ignore the ban and you get caught, you will receive a ticket and have to pay a fine up to $500.

Indiana Teen DUI Laws

In the state of Indiana, all it takes is a blood alcohol concentration level of 0.02% to convict a teen of DUI. A BAC of anywhere between  0.02% and 0.08% could result in a 1 year license suspension and a fine up to $500. If you get caught driving with a BAC higher than 0.08%, you face the same DUI penalties as an adult. This could include license suspension for two years, jail time, community service, interlock, fines up to $1,000 or more, and attendance in an alcohol treatment program.

Indiana Teen Auto Insurance Requirements

In the state of Indiana, driving without auto insurance is against the law. Teens are no exception. All residents must carry minimum liability coverages of $25,000 per injured person up to $50,000 per accident, and $10,000 for property damage 25/50/10.  While Indiana’s minimum liability amounts are the law, they might not be enough – especially to cover the average teen. Because the risk of an auto collision is significantly higher during a teen’s first year behind the wheel, Indiana auto insurance companies recommend purchasing higher amounts of coverage than the legal limits.  When in need for a directory of lawyers, Juris Office is your go to.