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Johnny Law Comes for Truckers with Electronic Logging Devices

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In Nick Stockton's Wired piece, truckers react negatively to updated hours-of-service rules that now digitize and automate logbook recordkeeping. No more pen and paper, apparently. It makes it easy, the way Stockton describes it, for an officer to confirm exactly how long a trucker has been behind the wheel without rest.

"To inspect a trucker's logs," Stockton writes, "a smokey just plugs into the ELD unit. Any trucker found in violation of their Hours of Service gets curbed for 10 hours - a serious penalty in a business where running late is bad news."

Self-Driving Car Woes

Things aren't so hot for self-driving cars right now.

First Pedestrian Death Involving Self-Driving Car

On March 18 in Arizona, a self-driving vehicle operated by Uber struck a woman who was crossing the street. She died later in the hospital. In Uber's defense, the woman was apparently crossing the street outside of the crosswalk. But crosswalk or no, this appears to be the first fatal accident involving a self-driving vehicle and a pedestrian. And it showed how poorly this particular self-driving vehicle handled an emergent situation - its failure to avoid someone who unexpectedly steps out into the street.

Drunk Driver Suffering From 'Affluenza' Released Today

If someone drives drunk and kills or seriously injures another person in a crash - a brother, mother, daughter, what have you - you'd expect the driver to get years and years behind bars. Occasionally that happens. But it often doesn't happen that way at all.

So it was in the case of the teen afflicted with "affluenza" who drove drunk and killed four people.

Tom and David Honored as Consumer Attorneys of the Year in 2017

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Both Tom Girardi and David Lira were recently honored at the CAOC Annual Awards as Attorneys of the Year in 2017, for having "achieved a significant result in a case that assisted consumers or changed consumer law for the better in California." The CAOC has updated its website to show current recipients and past recipients, in an award that stretches back nearly two decades.

The case centered on a 1993 Mazda minivan and its lap-only seat belts. In that case (as we described in an earlier post), had the minivan been fully equipped with three-point seat belts on all seats, rather than partially equipped, it would have prevented Ms. Williamson's death.

Driverless Cars: California Says It's Time for Full Auto

Once driverless cars really get going, we can all sleep like babies.

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On April 2, just one short month from now, the dreams of Tesla Motors founder Elon Musk, as well as the dreams of the other players in the self-driving car game, will come closer to fruition when the California DMV begins to issue permits for fully autonomous vehicles.

What this means is (1) automakers can soon test their vehicles on public roads remotely, with no driver or passenger in the car at all and (2) can move toward activating full auto mode in cars currently owned and operated by consumers, such as Tesla's Model S, with its Autopilot functionality 100 percent engaged.

Now it's "Look, Ma, no hands!" to get from Point A to Point B.

Sports Violence: Not Just a Philly Thing

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Following Minnesota's drubbing in the NFC Championship (38-7) leading up to Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis, much was made of Philadelphia's notorious fan base, accused of all manner of naughty behavior, from mild run-of-the-mill taunting to outright threats and physical assault, perpetrated against Vikings fans who attended the game in Philly.

On one hand, if you attend an away game in full hometown regalia, you can't expect to escape some good-natured ribbing, perhaps even some that isn't so good natured. On the other hand, the Big Game and Team Spirit are no excuse for threats and violence, in or out of the stadium. Towel snapping, beer can pelting, bottles of urine, crying kids - these are the anecdotes coming out of Philadelphia.

President Trump's State of the Union Address on Jan. 30

The President "shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient [...]"

- U.S. Constitution, Article II, Section III

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The State of the Union address is Tuesday, Jan. 30, at 8:00 central time.

When President Trump steps up to the podium in front of federal lawmakers, invited guests, and Supreme Court Justices (as well as millions of citizens watching at home), he will follow in the footsteps of all those who have come before, stretching back to the first "SOTU" in 1790, delivered by George Washington in New York City.

Speeding is No Big Thing, Right? Not So Fast

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Sure, weaving over the centerline into oncoming traffic because you're more than twice the legal limit (and you've got some opioids coursing through your system to boot), is dangerous.

Looking down at that text message on your iPhone and tapping out a quick response with a few emojis - traveling the length of a football field during that time - is also dangerous.

Taking a snooze while your Tesla's Autopilot does the heavy lifting from Point A to Point B is a cutting-edge example of dangerous driving.

Tesla's Autopilot is the New Distracted Driving

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To be fair, Tesla is quite clear about what Autopilot is and what it isn't. Autopilot - Tesla's self-driving or "robot car" mode - most certainly is not sleep-in-the-backseat mode or have-a-few-beers mode (though someday that could be the case). But someday is not today. "Autopilot," Tesla proclaims, "is intended for use only with a fully attentive driver."

In other words, turning on Autopilot and then checking out, in whatever fashion the driver chooses, be it dozing or boozing, is not fully attentive driving but distracted driving.

Some Tesla owners haven't read the memo.

Cigarette Marketing in a Post-Cigarette World

The specific claims a company can make about its products to the public in its marketing and advertising is at the heart of consumer law, which seeks to protect consumers from being misled.

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To boil down the history of cigarette marketing in America last century, you could draw a line between the Marlboro Man and the Master Settlement Agreement.

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