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Manassas Virginia Legal Blog

AAA warns of "100 deadliest days" for teen drivers

Every summer, more teens are found on the roads of Virginia and every other state. Teens, being inexperienced, are more likely to crash, and so the summer has always been considered a dangerous time for them. In fact, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has pointed to the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day as the "100 deadliest days" for teen drivers. During that time, teens' risk for a fatal crash goes up some 15%.

For these reasons, parents are encouraged to educate their teens about safe driving. With so many opportunities for partying, especially around the Fourth of July, parents and teens should be clear about the danger of drunk and drugged driving. Teens should not drive while drowsy either, and they should minimize the time they spend driving when night falls and visibility is compromised.

Speed limiters and other tech may help reduce truck crash rates

Many truckers in Virginia and across the U.S. are speeding to meet deadlines. This puts a lot of passenger car motorists at risk. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration states that 72% of those who die in collisions involving trucks and passenger vehicles are occupants of the latter. In the effort to check the increase in truck crashes, some trucking companies are looking to speed limiters and other technology.

Speed limiters are on all heavy-duty trucks built since 1992, yet there is no federal mandate regarding them. The NHTSA did propose a rule requiring their use, but this proposal failed in 2017. Many trucking companies are also installing devices like collision warning and lane departure warning systems, roll stability control and in-cab cameras.

Drowsy driving and why it's dangerous

Nearly a third of the respondents to a AAA survey said that they have driven drowsy at least once in the past month. In fact, they admitted that they were so drowsy that they had trouble keeping their eyes open. Virginia residents should know that drowsy driving is a frequent cause of accidents. A 2018 AAA study found that it contributes to 9.5% of crashes, though that percentage may be higher because drowsiness may go unreported.

The danger of sleep deprivation cannot be overstated. The National Sleep Foundation says that going without sleep for 24 hours is like having a blood alcohol content of .10, which is above the legal limit of .08. Yet with so few regions offering comprehensive public transit systems, experts say drowsy driving is almost unavoidable.

The role of the juvenile defense attorney

A juvenile involved in the legal system is a stressor for the entire family. You may wonder how this will affect them now and in the future. You may feel that you let them down as a parent. Recognizing the severity of these situations is good and can empower you to find a strong advocate for your child.

Adding an attorney who specializes in juvenile cases can help your family shoulder the burden.

Stay-at-home moms who get divorced

The well-publicized divorce of Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos has highlighted the issue of what a Virginia stay-at-home mom should receive in a divorce settlement. In most states, the answer to that question seems fairly obvious because the law requires an equitable distribution of assets. However, only a few states actually distribute assets equally. Even when a woman gives up a promising career to stay at home, it is unlikely that she will receive half of the assets or be granted long-term alimony.

About 25 percent of American mothers voluntarily opt out of the workforce in order to support their husbands and engage more thoroughly with their children. Most Americans support that decision because they believe a baby will receive better care from a mother than from a father. Because of this, it is a foregone conclusion in many cases that the mother is the logical one to stay home among heterosexual couples.

How do we define an unconstitutional 'excessive fine'?

In February, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Eighth Amendment's "excessive fines" clause applies to the states. In other words, both states and the federal government are prohibited from levying excessive fines. It also ruled that civil asset forfeitures in criminal cases are fines for the purpose of the amendment. Therefore, governments in the U.S. cannot engage in excessive asset seizures.

What is civil asset forfeiture?

Who is at fault in a self-driving car crash?

It sounds like a bad riddle: If a machine drives a car and crashes into a person, who is at fault? This question came into the limelight in March 2016 when a Tesla vehicle in self-driving mode failed to detect a white truck's reflection against the bright sky. The crash killed the truck driver and marked the first death in a crash with an autonomous vehicle.

Some consumer groups estimate that self-driving cars will be readily available to the public by 2020. If this prediction comes true, is the legal system ready? Is there a way to tell who is at fault in these cases?

How do you divide your favorite painting in the divorce?

Deciding who gets what in your Virginia divorce could become one of the most stressful parts of ending your relationship with your spouse, particularly when it comes down to dividing your personal property. You need to set aside the emotional value you place on such items so you do not end up cheating yourself in the agreement, but you also need to establish a real financial value to ensure that everything is fair. According to the Journal of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, this may require a valuation expert.

Before you start your search for the right professional, you need to inventory and catalog all your personal property. This task needs to be done for settlement purposes whether you hire an appraiser or not. The inventory should include a description of each item, including measurements, provenance and unique features. You should provide pictures of each, as well. At that point, you may want to weigh whether you and your spouse believe the cost of an appraisal would be greater than the effect the value of the items may have on your settlement outcome.

Non-biological parents gain ground in custody cases

Biological parenthood often carries a lot of weight during custody decisions in the state of Virginia, which can introduce challenges when same-sex couples with children decide to end their marriages. The matter becomes particularly complicated when the non-biological parent is not legally recognized as a parent.

Nevertheless, court decisions in recent cases, such as the custody battle between Lauren and Karen Poole, have advanced the rights of non-biological parents to have access to the children they have loved and raised as their own. The Virginian-Pilot reports that when Lauren and Karen married, they both planned to have children. Karen was the first to become pregnant, and the couple, alongside the sperm donor, drew up and signed an agreement that not only identified Lauren as a parent but also freed the father from responsibility for the child.

Kinship care on the rise in opioid crisis

Drug addictions among parents can have devastating consequences for Virginia children. Grandparents across the state are finding themselves back in the parenting role, a situation that can be extremely challenging but often represents the best possible solution for the children involved.

One of the serious consequences of the opioid crisis sweeping the nation is the effect of addiction on children. In many cases, grandparents are stepping in to provide a stable home for young children whose parent are struggling with addiction, PBS reports. Indeed, as of 2015, approximately 2.9 million children were being raised by their grandparents.

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