Today’s Headlines

  • State Senate Passes Speed Camera Bill; Spox Says Cuomo Will Sign (MTR, NYTNews)
  • NYPD Highway Division CO: Speeding Not Enough to Establish Probable Cause in Crash Probes (NYT)
  • NYPD Working on Strategy to Catch Dirt Bikers Without Chasing Them (Post)
  • Post Now Slamming DOT for Moving Bike-Share Stations; Cuozzo Takes a Ride and Lives to Tell
  • Coverage of Fourth Avenue Traffic-Calming Plan From Crain’s
  • LIRR to Ask Elmhurst Locals About Reopening Station Closed in 1985 (WSJ)
  • State Court Justice Provides Evidence That Judges Don’t Need Parking Placards (News 1, 2)
  • Bill Cowher Involved in Park Avenue Crash That Sent Car Into Scaffolding (News, DNAPost)
  • Fashion Retailers Revamp Inventories in Response to Citi Bike (Crain’s)
  • Taking In the Sounds of Cycling, From Pontiacs to “Pontiac” (IVM)

More headlines at Streetsblog Capitol Hill

  • Guest

    As a pedestrian, I HATE tinted windows because I can’t make eye contact with the driver. You think they saw you and slowed down to let you cross… and then they speed up!

    Plus, they represent a danger for law enforcement. I have no problem with strict enforcement against tinted windows.

  • Kevin Love

    Bravo! I agree! Let common sense prevail over criminals.

  • Guest

    We’re not talking about somebody who was pulled over for speeding. We’re talking about somebody who crashed a car while (as the probable result of) speeding.

    The speeding, coupled with the crash itself, should be a perfectly clear case of probable cause.

    The question of intent is premature. You need to investigate the evidence before making a determination of intent, no? The evidence very well may demonstrate that speeding was not the only illegal and reckless driver behavior that contributed to the crash, and may paint a clear picture of deliberate recklessness.

    Plus, you wouldn’t argue that we shouldn’t administer breathalyzer tests because we don’t want to “give up hard won protections from unreasonable search and seizure,” would you?

  • Joe R.

    I wouldn’t either if police bothered to enforce some of the other traffic laws to the same extent they enforced laws against tinted windows.

  • Guest

    Can you please provide the case law that would somehow determine that there is no probable cause to get a warrant when:

    1) There is a determination of excess speed by an initial crash investigation that raises a suspicion of reckless driving, and

    2) The evidence in question consists of a recording of the driver’s behavior on public property while exercising a privilege conferred by a State license.

    It sounds like you are referring to cases about cops pulling somebody over for speeding and then rifling through the glove box or the trunk without any clear reason.

    That isn’t even close to what we’re talking about. The officer is responding to a crash, not pulling over somebody for doing 30 in a 25 zone, and the evidence they want to inspect is directly related to their investigation and suggested by the preliminary findings, not some surprise bag of heroine carefully hidden from view.

  • Andrew

    “Everybody calls it an accident,” said Officer Matthew Center, a technician trained to use new robotic surveying equipment to map crash scenes. “But you find out that there may be criminality involved.”

    I think we’re on to something here.

  • Anonymous

    Drivers are not required to submit to a breathalyzer. You always have the right refuse. That usually results in a 15 day automatic suspension of your drivers license, followed by a DMV hearing to determine if the suspension should be lifted.

    The thing you have to remember is that when a driver crashes his car into something or someone, that is not necessarily a crime. It might be, but more evidence is required to determine if it is indeed criminal. Police or other law enforcement officers are not permitted to search the person or his vehicle or other private property just based on the fact that he crashed.

  • Anonymous

    As I replied above, you can’t be forced to take the breathalyzer field test. It is voluntary, with certain consequences if you do not comply.

    Maybe the act of crashing a car should be criminal in and of itself, much like the act of firing a gun usually is. There are some good arguments in favor of that, especially in a place like new York City.

    However, under current laws, crashing a car is not criminal, regardless of the consequences. Even if you kill someone, you are still presumed innocent and the burden is on the state to show evidence of criminality.

    Speeding by itself almost never is sufficient for probable cause. For better or worse, our society does not view speeding as a serious problem, and our laws reflect that.

    Imagine that some people think that the act of riding a bicycle on city streets is dangerous and criminal. There are at least a few editors at the NY Post who think this, so it’s not so far fetched. Those people might like the cops to stop anyone who they observe riding a bike in a dangerous manner, and to search that person. Maybe they would find an expired license, or drugs, or a weapon. Who knows. But clearly this would be a violation of the rider’s constitutional rights.

    I think that many drivers in NYC act like total sociopaths when they are behind the wheel, and at a visceral level I would like for them to be punished for speeding, running lights, and various things that endanger other people on the street. But I wouldn’t give up legal protections from arbitrary search and seizure in order to make it easier to arrest these drivers.

  • Anonymous

    That I would agree with, but the next problem you would face is that the NYPD and the DAs lack the resources to actually use the data. No joke. ADAs who deal with DUI cases are aware of these recorders and would love to have access, but they are still dealing with fax-era technology.

  • Guest

    Unfortunately, the reporter went right back to calling it an “accident.” It’s good to see some progress, but it is going to be a long road.

  • Guest

    This is all a bogus red herring.

    Saying they are not “required” to take a breathalyzer is semantics, since there are clear penalties for refusing the breathalyzer. Plus, they can and do get warrants for a blood test. There is no reason to believe we couldn’t treat something far less invasive as seriously. Get real!

    Everybody understands there are cases when a crash was not criminal. But we cannot make informed determinations and prosecute those cases that are criminal without inspecting the evidence.

    Nobody said we should search the vehicle “just” based on the fact of the crash. It is the fact of speeding, which should be recognized as probable cause just as much as signs that suggest intoxication. Again, if officers can get a warrant for an invasive blood test based on a suspicion of intoxication, it is the height of ridiculousness to suggest they somehow shouldn’t get a warrant to check the data on the vehicle based on a determination the vehicle was speeding.

  • Guest

    Stop making up facts.

    If they can get a warrant to take a blood test for suspicion of intoxication, there is no loss of privacy by looking at the vehicle’s onboard data.

    And calling it “arbitrary” to check the data after determining you were speeding borders on blatant dishonesty. A reasonable person would call it “due diligence,” or a “basic investigation.”

    Why are you so compelled to thwart efforts for safer streets with such blatantly bogus arguments that apologize for the status quo?

  • Anonymous

    I think you are confusing some different types of legal procedure.

    I have no objection to an examination of the data recorder with an appropriate warrant. That is because there is a well defined judicial review process in place to regulate when warrants are granted, and they are very specific about exactly what can be searched, and for what type of evidence.

    I also have no objection to cops asking for permission to check the data recorder, in the same way that they ask people to take a field sobriety test. The person always has the right to refuse, potentially with a license suspension for a set amount of time.
    But the simple act of speeding, or even the combination of speeding and crashing, are not sufficient to justify a warrant, nor constitute probable cause for a search at the officer’s discretion.

    This is true in a legal sense. I am not saying it is true in a moral or ethical sense. I would not necessarily disagree that speeding or other violations of VTL should constitute probable cause, but that would require reversal of a lot of precedent.

    The reason all this is important is that a lot of people blame the cops for not doing certain things, like checking the vehicle data recorder, when there is a crash. There are a lot of things the NYPD could do that it does not do, but there are also things that they don’t do because it is not legal. I do not think they should break the law in order to gather evidence. The problem in these cases lies with the law, not the enforcement.

  • Guest

    I DO blame cops when it appears they do not put in the effort to secure warrants when they could (unless you can demonstrate otherwise. And I certainly blame cops when they pick and choose when they will try to influence law makers, and choose not to when it really makes a difference of life and death.

    It would help if you stopped making assertions without support. If there is case law, please reference it.

    It seems beyond improbable that it would be impossible to secure a search warrant based on a well-articulated theory of reckless driving based on the evidence of excess speed that resulted in a crash.

    If there REALLY is some kind of case law, PLEASE cite it. The ONLY thing I have ever seen dealt with entirely irrelevant cases where the police went digging through a car after car stop to find evidence of other crimes unrelated to the reason for the car stop. If there IS something else, can you please provide it???