Newark Criminal Defense Law Blog

Subaru Crosstrek: Safe but accident prone

New Jersey readers might have heard that the Subaru Crosstrek earned the highest crash safety grade from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety. Unfortunately, the fuel-efficient mini SUV also has the distinction of being in more at-fault collisions than any other vehicle in the U.S., according to a new study.

For the study, researchers from auto insurance comparison website Insurify examined 1.6 million insurance quotes in its database. The quotes contained data on the types of cars customers owned and whether the vehicles had ever been involved in a crash. Overall, they found that 13.64% of all automobiles in the database had been in some sort of collision. However, they found that a whopping 25.81% of all Subaru Crosstreks had been in a crash, making it the most crash-prone vehicle currently on the road. Meanwhile, they found that 25.7% of Honda HR-Vs had been involved in an accident, making it second on the list.

Witness confidence could be key to determining innocence

In New Jersey criminal trials, prosecutors may use eyewitness identification to prove their cases beyond a reasonable doubt. Even so, The Innocence Project names eyewitness misidentification as a leading cause of wrongful convictions. There may be one way to tell when a witness has misidentified a suspect, and that is through the confidence he or she displays.

Researchers believe that when people correctly identify a witness, they will be sure of their decision. Individuals who are sure of their decisions will pick out a culprit sooner and be more confident that they have found the right match. On the other hand, those who are unsure may spend more time mulling over their choices and display a sense of uncertainty once they have chosen someone.

Prison releases begin under First Step Act

New Jersey residents may be interested to learn that over 3,100 people will soon be released from federal prisons as part of the implementation of a sentencing reform bill. The Bureau of Prisons will be releasing these individuals in compliance with the First Step Act, which was passed by Congress and signed by President Trump in 2018. The majority of the offenders being released were convicted on drug charges and many have already been living in halfway houses after they were identified for eligibility under the law. However, 900 of the people being released are still eligible for detention by immigration authorities or local officials.

The law reduces sentences for certain types of drug crimes, including disproportionate prison terms for crack cocaine as oppose to powder cocaine. The Justice Department also said that 250 elderly or terminally ill prisoners were identified and moved to home imprisonment or a compassionate release program. Furthermore, Justice Department officials are working to identify other prisoners who could benefit from programs allowing them to earn credits for early release under the First Step Act.

Study reveals the most dangerous cities for drivers

It has long been speculated that certain cities are more dangerous to travel in than others. However, a recent report from Allstate specifically shows which cities are the most dangerous for drivers. While no New Jersey cities landed on the dreaded worst 15 list, none made the list of the 15 safest either.

California tops the list of states with the riskiest cities to drive in. Of the worst 15 cities, six of them are located in the Golden State. They include Glendale, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco, Pasadena and Hayward. Overall, Baltimore was listed as the most dangerous city for motorists. This was followed by Washington, D.C., and Boston.

The harsh consequences of moving violations

You may expect severe penalties for a DUI conviction or causing a serious accident. However, you may not give much thought to the penalties for traffic offenses, such as speeding, running a red light or tailgating. In fact, you may be like many who prefer to accept the charges, pay the fine and go on with life. However, paying a fine may not be the end of your penalties.

New Jersey, like other states, has a points system in place. Certain moving violations can result in points on your license. As these points accumulate, the consequences become more severe.

Study highlights need for supervised release reform

Probation and parole programs in New Jersey and around the country are designed to reduce prison populations and help offenders to get their lives back on track, but a recently released report from the Council of State Governments suggests that supervised release fails almost as often as it succeeds. The Kentucky-based nonprofit organization's Justice Center gathered parole and probation data from all 50 states, and its researchers found that nearly half of the people sent to state prisons each year are jailed for violating the conditions of their supervised release.

The CSG report also reveals that incarcerating people for parole or probation violations costs states $9.3 billion each year, and almost a third of this money is spent sending people to jail for minor technical violations such as missing an appointment or not showing up for a drug test. In New Jersey, 27% of the individuals sent to state prison each year are incarcerated for supervised release violations. They make up 14% of the state prison population.

New Jersey can be dangerous for pedestrians

Many people enjoy walking around the city. Whether it’s to work or simply for fun, the exercise and open air can be refreshing. It can also put someone at risk of serious injury or death in the event of a traffic accident.

According to the State Police, car crashes killed 565 people in New Jersey in 2018. Of those, 175 were pedestrians, meaning they were on foot at the time. In Essex County alone 25 pedestrians were killed that year, nearly double the number of drivers (13) that died in traffic accidents. For a time, the Federal Highway Administration even considered Newark a “focus city” as it looked to reduce the number of pedestrian deaths.

Safety tips that may help New Jersey residents avoid accidents

New Jersey residents who are concerned about road safety have a right to be worried considering that vehicle collisions in the United States are the current leading cause of death in pedestrians, drivers and passengers between 2 and 34 years of age. Fortunately, many motor vehicle accidents are preventable. Drivers should consider following several safety tips that might help them avoid accidents.

First, drivers should make sure they follow the law at all times. They should never drive under the influence, and they should avoid habits such as speeding, failure to stop at red lights and stop signs, failure to yield and failure to use their headlights when it is dark outside or there is inclement weather.

Keto diet may cause breath test false positives

An odd circumstance regarding the defendant's diet got DUI charges dropped in a recent case. Readers in New Jersey might be interested in the case's demonstration of challenges to prosecution evidence in a drunk driving case. In the case, the defendant was pulled over and given a field sobriety test, during which he seemed largely fine. When the driver blew into a breath testing device, he tested above the legal limit for alcohol.

His attorney learned that the driver had been on the keto diet, and also learned that some breath testing machines cannot tell the difference between isopropyl alcohol and ethanol alcohol. These facts were relevant because when people are on the keto diet, their livers break down fat to use as fuel, which has acetone as a byproduct. When people who are on the keto diet breathe into some breath tests, the devices pick up on the acetone that is released in the person's breath as isopropyl alcohol.

Legal status of marijuana products causing big problems for some

In most parts of the United States, it is common to ask: “Is marijuana legal now?” If you live in New Jersey, you may be especially unsure of the answer. As of the time of this writing, marijuana is legal for certain medical purposes and a bill legalizing recreational use is currently working its way through the state legislature (without a guaranteed outcome).

Of course, marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, but federal lawmakers recently legalized the sale of hemp, which is very similar to marijuana except in one very important way: It contains nearly none of the high-causing chemical THC that is found in pot. With such a confusing patchwork of state and federal laws as well as a patchwork of legal and illegal marijuana-derived products, how is anyone supposed to know which side of the law they are on?

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