All posts by ArizonaBikeLaw

Moped and Motorized Bicycles in Arizona

[for an update involving troubles in Tempe, see Is your motorized bicycle a play vehicle?]

Every now and then an unusual story involving bicycles, in this case motorized bicycles, and a point of law comes along. Surely, this is one of those cases. It revolves around a relatively new law enacted last year, that defines a whole new category: motorized bicycles. See HB2796, 2nd Regular legislature (2006). Continue reading Moped and Motorized Bicycles in Arizona

Pecos Death Trap?

UPDATE SEP 22,2010: AFN reports that that there was an injury wreck at 32nd and Pecos resulting from a “bad left”. The 17 y.o. EB driver turned left into the path of the WB driver, who was injured “seriously but not life threatening”. Bad lefts were the cause of both a 2003 fatality and a 2007 very serious injuries; both of those were at 40th and Pecos. Continue reading Pecos Death Trap?

Insurance Considerations

Bicycling & the LawI’m reading Bob Mionske’s excellent book Bicycling & the Law (available from velogear), here is what I distilled out of the section on car insurance and liability systems as it relates to Arizona.

Arizona operates on the traditional “tort liability” system. By comparison, the three other systems used in decreasing order of popularity are: no fault, hybrid, and choice. Continue reading Insurance Considerations

Driver arrested in quintuple(!) fatality — excessive speed and red-light-running alledged

A driver was arrested on suspicion of five counts of manslaughter (see homicide categories) and 3 aggravated assaults. What makes this unusual is the absence of suspicion of DUI. We shall see what the prosecutor does with it. This is a tantalizing comment: “data recorded when the truck’s airbags deployed substantiated detectives’ findings that Myers was driving at ‘an excessive speed,’ “. Data recorder? We (the public) often hear that these sorts of crashes are tragedies but not crimes — because the prosecutor claims that they can’t prove anything. Continue reading Driver arrested in quintuple(!) fatality — excessive speed and red-light-running alledged

The Disneyland Model

John Semmens is an AZDOT project manager who also writes free-market oriented policy papers — he is perhaps best known locally for his vociferous opposition to Phoenix’s light rail. John is now affiliated with the Independent Institute — a free-market-leaning think-tank that I had heretofore not heard of. He had an op-ed published last Saturday in the Wall Street Journal that contained some novel, perhaps radical, ideas about how private auto insurance should be used as a lever against dangerous drivers; he dubs this the “Disneyland model”, and makes some good points. Though, he does not even mention the role of law (criminal) enforcement (as in criminal charges: homicide, assault)… perhaps he was space-limited. Also, his general idea — privatizing licensure — seems sound but how would this help the problems caused by those who  simply go without? In any event it is a welcome look at publicizing one facet of the problems created by private automobile usage.

What is the deal with the 39,000 deaths figure? Fatalities have been running around 43,000.

The full text is here:  On the Road. September 1, 2007 op-ed, John Semmens, Wall Street Journal

Continue reading The Disneyland Model

Double Jeopardy and Flawed Logic

ARS §28-1592 specifies the time limit for bringing a civil traffic violation. Sort of like the “statute of limitations” for traffic tickets. The normal limit is 60/90 days, but for alleged violations when there is a wreck and investigation the limit is 180 days, and extends to a full year if a fatality is involved.

The rub is that police (cities? jurisdictions?) won’t issue complaints for a traffic violation if there is any sort of ongoing investigation, an incipient neg hom/manslaughter charge for example… and these things do seem like they can drag on forever. They appear to do this in an overabundance of caution — claiming “double jeopardy” issues. As far as I can tell there can be no double jeopardy between civil and criminal.

The end result is that drivers who would clearly be found responsible for a traffic infraction frequently end up getting off scot free; when the criminal case falls through for whatever reason. See e.g. Kandas. Or sometimes it is just an oversight on the part of police. It seems clear that the driver responsible for the Eades fatality could have / should have been cited for §28-701 “failure to control”.

Talk about getting away with murder…

Yet police didn’t confiscate her driver’s license. Had this been a DUI case, Sgt. Joel Tranter told me, they would have taken it and notified the state Motor Vehicle Division so it could administratively suspend Gilbert’s license. But police don’t pursue DUI charges in manslaughter cases, for fear of jeopardizing the more serious charges.

“The (administrative suspension) law does not apply to homicide or aggravated assault cases because those are criminal,” Tranter explained. “They aren’t traffic investigations.”

In other words, if you drive drunk, you lose your license. But if you drive drunk and kill someone, you can keep driving.

Hentoff [the victim’s family’s attorney] calls the police department’s interpretation of the law “absolutely flawed logic.”

Driver in DUI-death case still at the wheel, Laurie Roberts, The Arizona Republic. Aug. 25, 2007

We’ve heard this double jeopardy business before from the police department, Continue reading Double Jeopardy and Flawed Logic