Salt Lake Criminal Defense Attorney - Clayton Simms

new_clayton_about A criminal charge, whether it is a felony or misdemeanor, can be a life changing event. Clayton Simms is a fierce advocate for people who have been charged with misdemeanor and felony offenses. He represents clients who are facing charges in Salt Lake City and Greater Salt Lake County. In addition, he also represents clients along the Wasatch front. Clayton Simms represents defendants in other crimes Clayton has represented athletes, doctors, lawyers, and other notable people and has been featured on the news. Do you have a legal question? Contact Clayton Simms today!

Street Cameras and License Plate Scanners – Is Public Surveillance an Invasion of Privacy?

When driving down the street, any individual with or without a criminal history is being watched through public surveillance technology including street cameras and license plate scanners; a constant and troubling invasion of privacy.

Street cameras

License Plate Scanners

Photo by: Mike_fleming

To temporarily escape the government’s known watchful eye over the internet, many will close down their personal computers and put away their phones only to again be under constant observation the second they step outside their home. Cameras placed on streetlights, ATMS, and the exterior of buildings such as gas stations and grocery stores keeps tabs on anything happening along public streets. Public surveillance is said to be beneficial for crime prevention and investigation purposes, but for the millions of innocent people who pass by these cameras on a daily basis, it can seem like Big Brother is always watching.

License plate scanners

If an individual is able to avoid the abundance of cameras placed throughout U.S. cities, their vehicle is still under surveillance. License plate scanners, otherwise known as automatic number plate recognition technology can be placed in stationary locations throughout town such as on street lights, toll gates, and freeway overpasses or be attached to the bumper or roof of law enforcement vehicles for surveillance in motion. Unlike video surveillance, license plate scanners link a license plate to a person’s personal information. License plate scanners are used by law enforcement to track a person’s whereabouts and determine if that individual is a person of criminal interest. If that individual’s movements deem them worthy of being scrutinized, their name and vehicle information is added to a “hot list”, and the license plate scanners will alert authorities of that individual’s location at any given time.

Problems with public surveillance

Although public surveillance may have started as a way to prevent crime and protect citizens, now it appears to be nothing more than a constant invasion of privacy. Originally, license plate scanners were few and far between, with scanners at certain high profile areas around cities. Now, those scanners can be found everywhere – always watching, always recording. Law abiding citizens who are not committing crimes are still being observed and monitored on a daily basis, with their entire lives on display and recorded to databases! Days, weeks, months, and even years of an individual’s movements are collected regardless of any criminal history. Law enforcement may know more about an individual by their habits and routines that their own family does.

Stalking escalated

Photo by: hunnnterrr

Photo by: hunnnterrr

Public surveillance by law enforcement is disturbing enough already, imagine if that information got into the wrong hands! At what point will this surveillance of the public become available to the public? For a price, people can already research each other online. For $49.99, all “public records” can be compiled and delivered to anyone, complete with a person’s address, phone numbers, email address, and even any photographs posted online. Imagine if the information obtained through cameras and license place scanners likewise became available to everyone as public record. Public surveillance through cameras and license plate scanners could show that someone picks their young child up from school at 3:00pm daily; grocery shops on Wednesdays mornings; and leaves their children at the sitter while they attend a pottery class at the college on Friday evening. Not only would privacy be moot, this could open doors for an abundance of alarming situations.

Keep public privacy intact

No one should have their personal lives tracked, not even by the police. If a person has committed a heinous crime, then the description of their vehicle along with the license plate number should be given to authorities to be used as needed. For all law abiding citizens, and even those with forgotten parking tickets, they should have the right to privacy until law enforcement is given a reason to investigate them.

Rules for Watching TV in the Car

Watching TV in the car is easier than ever with the use of portable devices or built-in DVD players, yet there are rules regarding who is allowed to be entertained by a movie while driving.

Progression of watching TV in the car

Watching TV in the Car

Photo by: rick

Before DVD players became the standard for all family type vehicles, parents had to endure hours on the road with grumpy kids who were tired of playing the license plate game. Some families as early as the 1980’s discovered they could strap a small TV and VCR inside the car and plug it into the cigarette lighter with a power converter. In the late 1990’s the first portable DVD player was invented, allowing parents an easier and lighter way to bring movies on the road with them. Nowadays with built-in DVD players and smartphones capable of playing full length movies, every passenger in the vehicle is able to watch the show of their choice during boring road trips.

Passengers only

Watching TV in the car is not allowed for everyone however. Obviously for safety reasons, the driver is not allowed this same luxury. Not only are drivers prohibited from watching TV in the car, they aren’t even allowed to be able to see the screen that someone else is watching. Utah Code 41-6a-1641 states: “A motor vehicle may not be operated on a highway if the motor vehicle is equipped with a video display located so that the display is visible to the operator of the vehicle.” The only exceptions to this rule are for law enforcement, navigation purposes, or for viewing vehicle systems such as rear facing cameras.

Out of driver’s view

Some DVD players are attached to the vehicle’s audio system making them easily viewable to everyone in the car. Additionally, DVD players located in the back seat may be seen by the driver if a mirror to watch rear facing children is installed, making the screen viewable in the mirror. Regardless of where the screen is located, drivers who are caught watching TV in the car or having a screen in view may end up with a $40 ticket.

Utah Bicycle Laws

Some rules regarding Utah bicycle laws may be no-brainers while other rules or the lack of may surprise the average rider.

Common sense laws

Utah Bicycle Laws

Photo by: Andrew Smith

There are some Utah bicycle laws that would be easy to avoid breaking as long as a person has just a small sliver of common sense. These no-brainer laws include:

• Utah Code section 41-6a-1106(3) which prohibits a person on a bicycle from being careless and crashing into a pedestrian, another bicyclist, or vehicle. In other words, don’t run into people.

• Section 41-6a-1101- “The parent of guardian of a child may not authorize or knowingly permit the child to violate [Utah bicycle laws]”. That is to say, parents are not above the law.

• Section 41-6a-1104 states that anyone on a non-motorized vehicle such as a bike, moped, skateboard, sled, etc. should never attach their ride to a vehicle on a highway. A person’s fear of dying a horrible, painful death should prevent them from ever trying to break this law.

• Section 41-6a-113(2) – Every bicycle must have brakes. Although unknown to many as a law of the state, most riders are more than likely hopeful that they would be able to stop their bicycle effectively when needed.

• Although this should be common sense in regards to safety, some riders may not be aware that according to section 41-6a-1114 having reflectors and a headlight at night is a law. Make sure you can see where you’re going and that vehicles can see you.

Surprising Utah bicycle laws

Photo by: David B. Gleason

Photo by: David B. Gleason

While the above laws should be obvious for each bicyclist, there are numerous other Utah bicycle laws that the majority of bike owners are probably unaware of, such as:

• Utah Code section 41-6a-112(2) which says “A person operating a bicycle or moped shall keep at least one hand on the handlebars at all times.” A smooth looking trick that is learned and perfected in grade school, riding a bike with no hands is technically illegal.

• Section 41-6a-112(1) prohibits a bicyclist from carrying a “package, bundle, or article which prevents the use of both hands in the control and operation of the bicycle” Fortunately they make those little bicycle baskets for transporting things via two wheels with ease.

• Another section limiting what can be carried on a bike, 41-6a-1103(1) states “a bicycle or moped may not be used to carry more persons at one time than the number for which it is designed or equipped for.” No more letting your buddy ride on your bike pegs.

Photo by: Paul Sableman

Photo by: Paul Sableman

• Although riding on pegs is not permitted, section 41-6a-1103(2) allows adults to carry a child in a backpack or sling, like that is any safer.

• The 4th Amendment protects citizens from undue searches, but what about random bike inspections? According to section 41-6a-1110 of the Utah Code, “at any time” an officer feels necessary, they may stop a bicyclist and inspect a bike to make sure it is safe and legal.

• 41-6a-1102 – One bonus law in favor of bicyclists: Riders on non-motorized devices such as bicycles will not face the same penalties as those who drive vehicles under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Cheers to no DUI charge for riding a bicycle drunk! (Public intoxication charges are another story however.)

A needed law

Photo by: Stanley

Photo by: Stanley

While Utah is not lacking on its abundance of bicycle laws, there is one area that many residents feel should be regulated, but isn’t. Currently only 22 states in the nation have statewide laws requiring either all persons or minors under a certain age to wear a helmet when riding a bicycle. Other states have cities within those states with local ordinances requiring helmets for some riders within their city limits. Neither Utah as a whole nor any city in the beehive state has a law requiring helmets. Even young rider and those being carried in a backpack or sling by an adult rider are not required to have something protecting their head in case of a fall. Someday hopefully this law will be added to the list of common sense bicycle laws.

Bicycle rider’s handbook

As with driving a motor vehicle, riding a bicycle comes with a variety of different laws. Perhaps a handbook should be supplied upon the purchase of any two-wheeled non-motorized vehicle. Until then, bicyclist as encouraged to become familiar with all Utah bicycle laws.