Joplin is a city in Missouri with a population of 49,526 (2011 estimate). The recent devastation of the 2011 tornado that claimed 161 lives has made Joplin authorities determined not to add to the body count by tightening regulations on preventable car accidents.
One of the preventive measures employed by the Joplin Police Department is to establish a checkpoint for impaired drivers or those driving while intoxicated (DWI) over the March 29, 2013 weekend. The project was aimed at making Joplin residents aware of the consequences of impaired driving. DWI is the cause of nearly one-third of traffic accident fatalities in Missouri on average; that number for 2011 was 218, with a further 867 sustaining serious injuries. DWI in Missouri carries fines, license suspension, jail time and other undesirable consequences such as felony record for repeat offenders.
Another preventive measure was the “Click It or Ticket” campaign, which imposed fines for drivers and passengers who were not using their seatbelts. About 70% of all car accident fatalities in Missouri had been unbuckled, which approaches the state average seatbelt use of 79%, 6 points below the national average. The campaign ran from May 20 to June 3, 2013.
The need for catching DWI drivers before they do any harm and the wisdom of using seatbelts was tragically illustrated in a traffic accident that occurred in Joplin on May 30, right in the middle of the Click It campaign. A vehicle travelling erratically just past midnight rolled over as it hit the curb, killing the unrestrained female passenger and seriously injuring the driver. Further investigations will reveal if the driver had indeed been intoxicated as initial reports indicate. The Joplin-based driver is being charged with involuntary manslaughter, and may also be facing a civil lawsuit for wrongful death.
If you are ever involved in a car crash in Joplin in the near future due to negligence or recklessness of other, it is not due to any lack of preventive measures by the authorities. Consult with a Joplin personal injury attorney and help drive home a point.
Getting a police report for a car wreck in Wisconsin may not be as easy as it sounds. While the Wisconsin Department of Transportation instructs the public to obtain a police report for any car accident that occurs in the state ($6 fee), those who are in need of one may find that they will not always be given a complete one.
Approximately 135,000 car accidents occur in Wisconsin annually, or one every 5 minutes, and upwards of 700 people are killed and about 50,000 people are injured and the cost for the state is about $2.9 billion. For each one of these accidents, a police report is filed and is supposedly available for those who have a legitimate right to it, such as the parties directly involved in an accident.
However, there has been an increasing tendency for law enforcement agencies to redact or block out information stated in police reports, including those for car accidents. A federal law protecting the right to privacy of drivers whose information may be obtained from motor vehicle registers is the basis for this policy, but it is doubtful whether the 1994 Driver’s Privacy Protection Act was meant to apply to individuals who have a right to a full car accident report for insurance and civil litigation purposes.
This redaction policy is a reaction to a lawsuit against a city in Illinois that originated from a parking ticket stuck to the windshield which contained full details regarding the owner of the vehicle, including name, address and birth date. The plaintiff claimed that this violated the DPPA law, and the case is now pending at the US Supreme Court. By withholding vital information, the law enforcement agencies in Wisconsin are hoping to avoid similar lawsuits. Ironically, a city in Wisconsin is now being sued for violating the open records law with their redaction policy.
If you are injured in a car wreck due to the negligence of others, you may find your work cut out for you in obtaining a police report you can use in a personal injury lawsuit. Retain the services of a Wisconsin car accident attorney who will have the knowledge and resources to obtain the records you need for your claim.