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NMA Reporter 2016-08-19 05:05

A New Excuse to Harass & Collect
 
<b>NMA Article: A New Excuse to Harass & Collect</b><br/><br/><p>Orwell described things that seemed a bit much in his novel, <em>1984</em>. Like, as a for-instance, the Telescreen-prompted mandatory morning calisthenics — physical jerks — the novel’s main character, Winston Smith, was forced to endure each day.</p>
<p>Well, things that seemed a bit much when I read this book back in high school — back in the ‘80s — have become our Loving Big Brother reality.</p>
<p>Like this, for instance:</p>
<p>The state of New Jersey — arguably, the California of the east coast as far as regulatory idiocy goes (this is the state in which you are not <em>allowed</em> to pump your own gas) is on the verge of passing what would be the most idiotic “distracted driving” law in the country.</p>
<p>The legislation — see <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2016/08/08/nj-distracted-driving-bill-ban-motorists-drinking-coffee-road/88380406/" target="_blank">here</a> — defines “distracted driving” as “<em>any</em> activity unrelated to the actual operation of a motor vehicle in a manner that interferes with the safe operation of the vehicle.” Italics added.</p>
<p>This to be defined by the New Jersey State Police (and other police) who literally wear uniforms that — excepting the lightning bolt insignia on the collar — look like they were designed by Hugo Boss for Heinrich Himmler’s minions.</p>
<p>It could be drinking a cup of coffee. Eating. Almost anything — literally. Hands not at “10” and “2” — both eyes (in the opinion of a cop) not firmly fixed on the road ahead?</p>
<p>Distracted driving!</p>
<p>“The issue is that we need to try, in every way, to discourage distracted driving, it’s dangerous,” Assemblyman John Wisniewski, a Democrat in Central Jersey, who sponsored the bill, told <em>The Star-Ledger</em>. “Education and enforcement can change the attitudes of people.”</p>
<p>It’s even worse than “drunk” driving laws, which at least have a specific — objective — measure <em>defining</em> the offense. Your BAC level is either over or under the threshold. It is not up to the cop’s <em>opinion</em>.</p>
<p>But “distracted” driving would be.</p>
<p>The bill is onerous — and tyrannical — on many levels. In addition to criminalizing yet another category of non-harmful actions, it also gives cops a <em>pretext</em> to stop any car, at any time. All a cop need do to justify the stop — <em>and whatever happens subsequent to the stop</em> — is claim he witnessed “distracted” driving.</p>
<p>This is a very important legal point.</p>
<p>Excepting the egregious random/dragnet-style “safety” and “drunk driving” checkpoints we’re forced to occasionally deal with, in other cases, a cop must have <em>probable cause</em> — some specific, tangible reason that can be substantiated later on, in court, to justify initiating the pull-over. You have a dead inspection sticker, a burned out brake light. You’ve committed a moving violation of some kind.</p>
<p>Something like that.</p>
<p>But provided you do <em>not</em> have a dead sticker or a burned out brake light and have not committed some specific traffic violation (e.g., failing to come to a complete stop, turning right on red where not allowed) the cop can’t —<em> legally</em> — pull you over. And if he does so regardless, you have a defense, legally speaking, when the matter goes to court. Not just for the initial stop but for whatever occurs <em>subsequently</em>. If the initial stop was not legally defensible, it is possible all charges stemming from the stop will be dropped. This is the “fruit of the poisoned tree” doctrine.</p>
<p>But with the “tool” of an offense so vaguely defined as “distracted” driving — which could be defined by the cop as you glancing at him momentarily (you took your eyes off the road!) or any of a dozen different things, he can now pull you over at will. And go fishing. And even if he doesn’t find anything, you’re not going home empty-handed.</p>
<p>The proposed legislation lists fines <em>starting</em> at $200-$400 for the “first offense,” graduating to $400-$600 for the second, ascending from there to $600-$800 and a three month suspension of one’s privilege to drive.</p>
<p>All at the discretion of a costumed and heavily armed state thug whose <em>job</em> is to extract as much money from our hides as possible.</p>
<p>How would one defend oneself against a cop’s claim that he “saw us look away” from the straight ahead? Or “glanced down” to change the radio station?</p>
<p>And is it <em>really</em> “distracted” driving to sip coffee behind the wheel?</p>
<p>The only upside to this business is that it may be Too Much and Too Soon — like Virginia’s equally over-the-top “aggressive driving” statutes (written by a state lawmaker who just happened to be a lawyer whose area of law just happened to be providing high-cost legal assistance to drivers charged with “aggressive driving”) that hit people with four figure fines for simple speeding and other such “offenses.”</p>
<p>It was repealed on a tsunami of public outrage and — hopefully — the same will happen to this New Jersey awfulness.</p>
<p><span style="font-family: 'Georgia','serif'; color: #333333;">Comments?</span></p>
<p><span style="font-family: 'Georgia','serif'; color: #333333;"><span style="font-family: 'Georgia','serif'; color: #333333;"><span style="font-family: 'Georgia','serif'; color: #333333;"><a href="http://ericpetersautos.com/" target="_blank"><span style="color: #0000ff;"><span style="color: #0000ff;"><span style="color: #0000ff;">www.ericpetersautos.com</span></span></span></a></span></span></span></p>
<p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="https://www.motorists.org/blog/new-excuse-harass-collect/">A New Excuse to Harass & Collect</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://www.motorists.org">National Motorists Association</a>.</p>
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