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Posts made in October 2014

What Are Some Things That Are Legal, But People Think Are Illegal?

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By: Thorin Klosowski

At a glance, the laws of the United States seem pretty straightforward. After all, you probably can’t keep a flamethrower around or have a pet tiger, right? Actually, in some states, you can. With that in mind, let’s make a list of some of the things you’ve always thought were illegal but are actually totally okay to do.

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Can you shoot down a drone on your land? New incident raises self-defense questions

By: Jeff John Roberts

After a New Jersey man spotted his neighbor’s camera-equipped drone flying over his house this week, he fetched a shotgun and peppered the drone with holes, knocking it from the sky. Did he have a right to do so?

Even though local police arrested the man on unlawful weapons charges, some people will feel he had the right to defend himself against an unlawful robot intrusion. More broadly, the episode highlights an emerging issue as more dronestake to the skies: how to balance the rights of drone owners against people’s rights to privacy and self-defense. Continue reading

Most Cops Will Ask for ID. Do You Know the Law Well Enough to Refuse?

By: Flex Your Rights

You’ve probably seen old movies where the protagonist is approached by a Nazi or Soviet guard and ordered to “show your papers.” We know that’s a tell-tale sign of a police state. So if police ever ask you to show ID during your travels, it’s natural to feel violated.

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Secret audit found city speed cameras had high error rates

By: Luke Broadwater and Scott Calvert

Baltimore’s speed cameras likely charged motorists for thousands more erroneous tickets than previously disclosed, according to data from a secret audit conducted for the city last year and obtained by The Baltimore Sun.

Consultant URS Corp. evaluated the camera system as run by Xerox State and Local Solutions in 2012 and found an error rate of more than 10 percent — 40 times higher than city officials have claimed. The city got those findings last April but never disclosed the high error rate, refusing calls by members of the City Council to release the audit.

The city issued roughly 700,000 speed camera tickets at $40 each in fiscal year 2012. If 10 percent were wrong, 70,000 would have wrongly been charged $2.8 million. Continue reading

Driving While High: What Does ‘Impairment’ Really Mean?

By: Chris Nesi

Driving under the influence of any motor skill-inhibiting substance, whether it comes from a flask, a bong or a prescription bottle, is both illegal and dangerous. 

While the scientific and law enforcement communities generally agree about what constitutes “impairment” under the influence of alcohol, a similar consensus on what determines a driver’s sobriety under the influence of marijuana remains elusive.

As the national tide shifts ever closer to legalizing recreational marijuana use, law enforcement officials are grappling with how to apply existing driving under the influence laws to drivers who are high. However, the imprecise approach some states use in implementing these “drugged driving” laws has created an environment which is potentially subject to abuse by law enforcement and with questionable benefit to public safety. Continue reading