Do you know the details? Washington’s Cell Phone Law Turns 1 Year Old

On Friday, Washington’s law banning the use of cellphones held to one’s ear or texting while driving turned a year old. As you probably already know, it makes holding your phone to your ear or texting while driving a primary offense. That means an officer can ticket you for those actions without you having to do something else wrong first, like blow through a red light or speeding. I’m posting the link to the Seattle Times’ article (below) because it has some good information. For example, I didn’t know that all cellphone use, including hands-free, is illegal for drivers under age 18. Of course, a $124 ticket is not chump change – but neither is the risk of being seriously injured or dying minimal for distracted drivers. Be safe and avoid taking calls on the road if you can.- Roxanne

Troopers write 6,850 tickets under year-old cellphone law
The State Patrol is cracking down on cellphone violators as the new law turns a year old.

By Susan Gilmore
Seattle Times staff reporter

About Washington’s cellphone law.

  • What the law does: Makes it a primary offense to text, or to talk on a cellphone with it held to the ear, while driving
  • What it doesn’t do: Ticket won’t become part of a driver’s permanent record or be reported to insurance companies
  • For drivers younger than 18: Outlaws any cellphone use, even with a headset
  • Penalty: $124 fine
  • Exemptions: Transit and emergency-vehicle personnel, tow-truck operators and those using a hearing aid are exempted, as well as anyone calling to report illegal activity or summon emergency help

The state’s restrictions on the use of cellphones while driving turn a year old Friday, and the State Patrol is strongly enforcing the law, issuing five times more tickets than before it became a primary offense.

In numbers released Tuesday, the Patrol said 6,850 drivers had been cited statewide in the year since the law took effect — a huge increase from the 1,344 citations issued in the previous year.

As a primary offense, drivers now can be pulled over merely for holding a cellphone to their ear or texting. An infraction carries a $124 fine. The citation does not go on one’s driving record.

Read the rest of the story here: Traffic | Troopers write 6,850 tickets under year-old cellphone law | Seattle Times Newspaper.

By Telling Cops of Dad’s Advice to Get a Lawyer, Suspect Didn’t Actually Ask for Lawyer | ABA Journal

I’m not a criminal defense lawyer and I don’t practice criminal law. However, when I was in law school and while studying for the bar exam, I used to drill my then-teenage daughter, “You don’t have a Constitutional right to a parent. You only have a Constitutional right to an attorney. You must be unequivocal in your request for an attorney. You cannot say, ‘Do you think I need an attorney?’ ‘Maybe I should get an attorney?’ You must say, ‘I-WANT-AN-ATTORNEY!’ in clear language.” All that came out in one-long sentence, without pausing for breath. Below is a story from the ABA Journal that explains why, when in trouble, you must say clearly, “I WANT AN ATTORNEY” for your Constitutional right for one to kick in. – Roxanne

9th Circuit: By Telling Cops of Dad’s Advice to Get a Lawyer, Suspect Didn’t Actually Ask for Lawyer
Posted Jun 9, 2011 7:16 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

Tio Dinero Sessoms was recorded on video when, after being arrested in 1999, he told Sacramento homicide detectives that his dad “asked me to ask you guys–uh, get me a lawyer.”

But a California court had an adequate basis for deciding that Sessoms’ relaying to police of his father’s advice wasn’t the same as actually asking for counsel for himself, a divided panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week. It hence upheld the use in evidence of Sessoms’ subsequent post-Miranda admissions to authorities and denied his habeas corpus petition concerning his felony-murder conviction.

Read the rest of the story here: 9th Circuit: By Telling Cops of Dad’s Advice to Get a Lawyer, Suspect Didn’t Actually Ask for Lawyer – News – ABA Journal.

Heat danger: 500th child dies in a hot car | Consumer Reports Car Blog

I saw this story and thought that it was particularly timely and important to post, especially as the weather warms up the Puget Sound area. Enjoy the summer, but stay safe above all. – Roxanne

Heat danger: 500th child dies in a hot car
Jun 3, 2011 2:55 PM

Since 1998 through just last week, 500 children have died after being left unintentionally in a hot car according to the child safety organization Kids and Cars and now that the warm weather is upon us that number is unfortunately, likely to rise.

In 2010, 49 children died from vehicular heat stroke, which was the highest number of fatalities in one year since the data has been tracked. To help prevent more tragedies in 2011, now is the time to educate parents and drivers on the dangers of leaving children unattended in a car especially during the warm summer months.

These tragedies can happen to anyone. A change in routine, stress, a sleeping baby in the back, can all contribute to a parent or caregiver forgetting to take their child out of a car. Some knowingly leave children in a car “just for a minute” not realizing how quickly the temperature in a car can rise to dangerous levels. Even on a 70 degree day, the inside temperature of a car can exceed 120 degrees even with windows partially open.

Statistics also show that these incidents occur more often with younger children–75 percent of those killed were under 2 years of age.

Here are some tips to help avoid these unnecessary deaths and keep your children safe.

  • Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle not even for a minute.
  • Check the car to make sure that all occupants leave the vehicle or are carried out when unloading.
  • If you lock the door with a key, rather than with a remote, it would force that one last look in the car before leaving it.

Read the Rest of the Tips Here: Heat danger: 500th child dies in a hot car.

Only fools drive distracted: National Distracted Driving Month starts today | Consumer Reports Car Blog

Only fools drive distracted: National Distracted Driving Month starts today.

Consumer Reports Car Blog – Apr 1, 2011 4:28 PM

It may be April Fools day, but it’s also the first day of National Distracted Driving month. While we just blogged about the decline in fatal crashes for 2010 to the lowest recorded levels, there are still many traffic safety issues, and distracted driving is one of them.

We all see it every day on the road: people texting, talking, and doing many other things behind the wheel rather than focusing on driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration NHTSA has been working to bring this issue to the forefront by increasing awareness and aiding states to enact laws.

In honor of National Distracted Driving month, many states and communities will be stepping up the enforcement of their distracted driving laws. Syracuse, New York, will hold the final wave of the “Phone in one hand, Ticket in the other” pilot campaign to test the effectiveness of high-visibility enforcement for distracted driving from April 7-16.

Read the rest at: Only fools drive distracted: National Distracted Driving Month starts today.

Survey shows 1 in 5 are surfing the web from behind the wheel | Consumer Reports Cars Blog

Survey shows 1 in 5 are surfing the web from behind the wheel

Nineteen percent of people in a recent State Farm Insurance survey admit to accessing the Internet while driving. The top web activities found include looking at directions, reading email, looking up specific information, checking social networking sites, and writing and sending emails.Most people said they engaged in these activities while stopped at a red light or driving in traffic. Other common times were during daylight hours, driving alone, and on long drives.

The survey was conducted online with 912 drivers who drove at least an hour per week and owned a smartphone. The survey aimed to look at the growing trend of smart-phone usage. According to State Farm, about 40 percent of the U.S. population owns a web-enabled phone. With the proliferation of smartphones, there is an increasing risk of crashes due to distractions, particularly among younger drivers.

Read the rest of the story here: Consumer Reports Cars Blog: Survey shows 1 in 5 are surfing the web from behind the wheel.

Gallagher Blogs: James Madison’s Birthday – Freedom of Information Day


James Madison’s Birthday – Freedom of Information Day

Freedom of Information Day is observed on March 16 in honor of James Madison, who was born March 16, 1751 (March 5, Old Style — there was a calendar change in the 1700s).

Why Madison? In addition to shaping the Constitution and pushing for the Bill of Rights, he left us some inspirational prose on the topic:

A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance.

Read the rest at: Gallagher Blogs: James Madison’s Birthday – Freedom of Information Day.

Teen driving act to be reintroduced in Congress | Consumer Reports Cars Blog

Teen driving act to be reintroduced in Congress

In 2009, over 3,400 teens were killed in motor vehicle accidents, which represents 10 percent of all vehicle fatalities. To help address the problem and reduce deaths, a new teen driving act is being reintroduced in Congress after it was stalled last year and supporters are hoping this will be the year it will finally get passed.

The STANDUP Act (Safe Teen and Novice Driver Uniform Protection Act) sponsored by Senators Kirsten E. Gillibrand D-NY, Amy Klobuchar D-MN, Representatives Chris Van Hollen D-MD, Rep. Tim Bishop D-NY and others in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate would establish a national minimum requirement for graduated drivers’ license GDL laws.

States that adopt these requirements would receive grants to help with enforcement and education. In order to incentivize states to pass the minimum GDL law, the states that fail to comply in the first three years would lose federal highway funds. A similar approach has been used in the past to push states to pass laws establishing 21 as the legal drinking age, a .08 percent legal blood alcohol level, and a zero tolerance policy for underage drinking and driving. Here are some of the details of the bill:

Three stages of licensing–learners permit, intermediate stage, and full licensure.Age 16 to be the earliest age to get a learners permit. No nighttime driving while unsupervised during the learners permit and intermediate stages, until full licensure at age 18. No driving while using a cell phone. Full licensure should occur no earlier than age 18.A restriction on passengers to no more than one non-family passenger under age 21, unless a licensed driver over age 21 is in the vehicle. This would be in place until full licensure.

Read the rest of the story here: Consumer Reports Cars Blog: Teen driving act to be reintroduced in Congress.

Daylight saving time: Short-term health risks, long-term gains |Consumer Reports Health Blog

Every Spring the time change takes me by surprise. It is important to recognize the short-term risks involved in “losing” an hour of sleep in our already-sleep-deprived society. I thought the article below from the Consumer Reports Health Blog informational. I hope you do too. – Roxanne


Daylight saving time: Short-term health risks, long-term gains

The hour of sleep you will likely lose early Sunday morning might pose a few health risks, at least for a couple of days. But after that, the extra hour of sunlight in the afternoon could translate into better health—especially if you use that extra hour to get outside and move around.

If you’re like most Americans, you’re already slightly sleep deprived. And the extra hour lost over the weekend—when most people typically try to make up their sleep debt from the week before—can worsen the problem. That extra dose of sleep deprivation can not only make you feel grouchy for a few days, but it might also temporarily increase the risk of car crashes and even increase your risk of heart attack.

Click here for the rest of the story: Consumer Reports Health Blog: Daylight saving time: Short-term health risks, long-term gains.

Progressive underpaid customers’ claims | Seattle PI

State: Progressive insurers underpaid customers’ claims



If your car is totaled and you have insurance, you expect to be paid the full amount of the car’s cash value, right?

But the state says three Progressive insurance companies were underpaying Washington policyholders,

CLICK HERE FOR THE REST OF THE STORY: State: Progressive insurers underpaid customers’ claims.

How to Choose the Right Executor for Your Estate –

I thought the article below from the New York Times had some good points and things to consider. – Roxanne

March 2, 2011

Choosing the Right Executor for Your Estate


BEING an executor has always been a time-consuming job. And if the task of sorting through the remnants of someone’s life and carrying out final wishes was not hard enough, it recently got even more complicated.

An executor administers an estate and remains in charge until it is legally closed. Before that happens, the will must be admitted to probate — the system through which a court determines if it is a legally valid document. After that, creditors and taxes, if any, must be paid and then the named beneficiaries are entitled to their share of what is left. If there is an estate tax audit or a will contest, the executor must oversee that process, too. Depending on the complexity of the estate and subsequent events, the job might last for a couple of years or even more.

Adding to the executor’s responsibilities is the tax law that President Obama signed in December. It gives widows and widowers a special new break. For deaths in 2011 and 2012 (and beyond that if Congress extends the rule, as the president proposed in his latest budget), a surviving spouse can carry over any part of the $5 million-per-person federal estate tax exclusion not used by the spouse who recently died.

To take advantage of portability, as it is called, the executor handling the estate of the spouse who died needs to transfer the unused exclusion to the survivor, who can then use it to make lifetime gifts or pass assets through his or her estate. The prerequisite is filing an estate tax return when the spouse dies, even if no tax is owed. This return is due nine months after the death with a six-month extension allowed. If the executor does not file the return or misses the deadline, the spouse loses the right to portability.

Given this new responsibility, along with more traditional ones like crawling through attics and placating disgruntled heirs, the ideal executor should not only be honest and diplomatic, but also well organized, good with paperwork and vigilant about meeting deadlines, said Howard M. Zaritsky, a lawyer in Rapidan, Va. His litmus test: Is this someone who always files income tax returns on time?

Your choice can also mean the difference between an estate that is settled harmoniously and efficiently and one that gets bogged down in a legal and financial quagmire. Here are issues to consider.

Click here to read the rest of the story: How to Choose the Right Executor for Your Estate –