Washington DC Injury Attorney Blog

Articles Posted in Legislative Issues

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When you have the option to connect your vehicle to the internet, it is no longer just a vehicle. It is now a computer on wheels. Some vehicles are able to search on Google, send tweets and be remotely accessed from a smartphone app. These vehicles will need cyber security measures beyond the traditional safety measures currently established. Therefore; the Security and Privacy in your Car Act is currently in consideration by Congress.

These software driven vehicles will need cyber security features. To date, there are three specific measures that can dramatically improve the cyber security of vehicles.

1) Vehicles will need over-the-air update systems to avoid expensive and lengthy recalls every time a security vulnerability is found;

2) The manufacturer must separate infotainment systems and the critical drive systems, therefore; tightly controlling communication between them; and

3) Manufactures must assume that some attacks will succeed and secure each individual software component in the vehicle, so that if an attacker compromises a single system they do not automatically get access to the entire vehicle.

These three measures are just a start. It will take years for companies to develop a strong cyber security system, but in the meantime, it is up to the driver how much control they are willing to give their vehicles when connecting them to the internet

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Brian Frosh, Maryland’s Attorney General, asked a federal court on Friday, July 17th, 2015 to lift a 20 year-old injuction that prevents the state of Maryland from recalling license plates with Confederate logos. This action would make it so that the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) can develop an emergency regulation to recall Confederate logo plates already in use statewide. Maryland has already stopped issuing new plates with Confederate logos. The issuing of these Confederate logo plates have been suspended until further review from the attorney general.

The Maryland request to lift the injuction follows the Supreme Court’s ruling on June 18th, 2015 that found states could reject specialty license plates as a form of government speech. This means that states can exclude the Confederate flag from government specialty license plates. The issue at hand is that in 1997 the U.S. District Court made a decision that blocked the state’s attempt to recall license plates with the logo of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, based on the fact that the group’s First Amendment rights to freedom of speech where being violated.

The MVA says there are 151 Confederate plates on vehicles and 27 on motorcycles to date.

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The major law passed is that a driver may now cross a double yellow line to pass a pedestrian or a device powered by human power. This means that drivers can cross the double yellow lines to pass a slower bicyclist, skateboarder and/or foot scooters, when driving in a single lane road with the above vehicles going at a slower pace.

Another law now in effect is one where you have to pass a stopped waste collection vehicle at 10 miles below the speed limit and allow at least two feet between you and the waste collection vehicle. Therefore; Virginia’s “move over” law has been revised to include all traffic management service vehicles with blinking amber lights to the list that requires drivers to move over one lane or slow down.

In addition, Bicycles, mopeds and other non-motorized vehicles can now be cited for tailgating.

Also, drivers who receive red light camera citations may now have the right to appeal them in court.

The final new law in effect in Virginia is where drivers of Uber and Lyft must register their vehicles with the DMV and comply with state regulations.

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On June 2, 2015, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade held a hearing on the Takata Airbag recalls.

At the hearing the H.R 1181, otherwise known as the Vehicle Safety Improvement Act of 2015 was presented. The Act would increase auto safety reporting, oversight and accountability and help reduce the likelihood of another Takata like failure. It would help restore a culture of safety among automakers, parts suppliers, and federal regulators. It includes commonsense and cost effective solutions to problems revealed in various congressional committee hearings examining government missteps and auto industry cover ups of deadly vehicle safety defects.

H.R. 1811 would provide for increased and improved public safety access to motor vehicle safety information, enhanced tools and accountability for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and for the protection of motor vehicle consumers.

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There are more gun deaths than motor vehicle related deaths in Virginia and 9 other states then in the rest of the United States. According to a 2009 federal government analysis there were 836 gun deaths and 827 motor vehicle related deaths in Virginia. Many believe this is the case because in the United States firearms are not subject to federal health and safety regulations. The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is the organization assigned to regulate and enforce the limited gun laws in the U.S., yet it has none of the health and safety regulatory powers given to other federal agencies.

The other 9 states where gun deaths surpassed motor vehicle deaths are:

Alaska: 104 gun deaths, 84 motor vehicle deaths Arizona: 856 gun deaths, 809 motor vehicle deaths Colorado: 583 gun deaths, 565 motor vehicle deaths Indiana: 735 gun deaths, 715 motor vehicle deaths Michigan: 1,095 gun deaths, 977 motor vehicle deaths Nevada: 406 gun deaths, 255 motor vehicle deaths Oregon: 417 gun deaths, 394 motor vehicle deaths Utah: 260 gun deaths, 256 motor vehicle deaths Washington: 623 gun deaths, 580 motor vehicle deaths

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Endoscopes.bmpThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is proposing new guidelines for the cleaning of reusable medical equipment, which if not done properly, can cause infections at hospitals and other medical facilities and doctors offices.

The new guidelines would require manufacturers to provide detailed instructions on how to clean any medical device that will be reused on multiple patients, properly. The guidelines would also provide cleaning instructions of those devices for health care professionals.

These guidelines are being implemented because when these instruments are not cleaned and/or sterilized properly, they could carry bodily fluids and other materials from one patient to the next and therefore; cause infections. These infections can be life threatening and should be avoided, and with these new guidelines, they could potentially be avoided.

A report released by the FDA, from January 2007 to May 2010, they received 80 reports of inadequate cleaning of endoscopes and 28 reports of hospital acquired infections that were most likely spread by endoscopes. Endoscopes are small cameras that are inserted into the body. They are most commonly used in colonoscopy procedures, but can also be used on ears, nose and throat procedures.

The FDA has a public workshop scheduled for June 8 and 9th of this year, to discuss the draft guidelines with manufacturers, health care providers and other government agencies, after which, the FDA would draft a final guidance. Guidance are recommended procedures that are recognized as federal standards.

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In a study conducted by the Maryland State Department of Education, in February 2011, there were 7,028 violations recorded during one single day, for drivers who illegally passed stopped school buses with flashing lights. The study was conducted on 65% of Maryland’s bus drivers. 4,000 of these violators were oncoming drivers, who failed to stop. 2,665 drivers passed the buses from behind on the driver’s side and 366 drivers passed the buses on the passenger side.

Violating the law in Maryland, currently has a fine of up to $1,000 and three points on your driving record, if a police officer stops you, after failing to stop at least 20 feet from the school bus that has the flashing red lights operating.

Therefore, a new legislation is being passed in Maryland, where cameras would be placed on the buses by county police and the department of education to catch these violators. The violators would be fined $250. No points would be added to ones driving record and it would not be considered a moving violation, but the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) could refuse to register or suspend the registration of vehicles in cases where the fines we unpaid.

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Seat Belt Buckle.jpgOn February 23, 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that plaintiffs can pursue product liability lawsuits against automakers that used lap-only seatbelts, even though federal regulations deemed them to meet the minimum standards of safety.

The new ruling will allow for wrongful death lawsuits to be brought against all car manufactures. The ruling also opens the doors to discussions over other products that only meet the minimum federal safety standards in the United States.

The new ruling will also push the automobile industry away from meeting the minimum of safety standards and move them more towards using the best available safety technology.

The U.S. Supreme Court decision was unanimous and was written by Justice Stephen Breyer.

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Q: What Industry do you think is the leader in Federal Fraud Lawsuits in the United States?
A: Pharmaceutical Industries.


Photo credit: mconnors from morguefile.com

According to a report released by

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Once the ticket has been written, you have two easy steps you can take: Pay the ticket or appear in court.
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When you are issued a ticket and the officer checks the “Notice to Appear” box, you have three of the following options:
– Plead “guilty” and pay the fine. Be aware however, that a plea of guilt results in the charge becoming part of your driving record. You have 15 days to pay the ticket. If the ticket is not paid within 15 days, you will automatically receive a trial date set by the court.
– Wait for trial notice and appear in court. At trial, you and the officer that issued the ticket have the opportunity to appear in court and testify in front of a judge. If you are found guilty, you have the right to an appeal within 30 days. If you do not appear at your trial, the Motor Vehicle Administration will suspend your driver’s license.
– Plead “guilty with an explanation”. This option gives you the opportunity for a hearing. At the hearing you can request that the fine be reduced or waived.

“Must appear” tickets are given for more serious infractions, such as, driving under the influence, driving while intoxicated, driving on a suspended license, etc. , according to the District Court of Maryland.

The Maryland General Assembly has passed a new law that will come into effect on January 1, 2011. This new law requires anyone who wants a trial to formally request one. The state will no longer automatically send you a trial date notice for a traffic violation. Once the law goes into effect, you have 30 days to respond by either, paying the fine, requesting a hearing or requesting a trial date. When you request a trial date, the District Court will give you a date and time to show up in court, in front of a judge. You may bring witnesses and any evidence to prove your case.

The previous law was changed because the courts were receiving complaints from various jurisdictions about officers wasting time appearing at trials where the defendants did not appear. The new law states that failure to take one of the above options means the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) can and will suspend your license.