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Investigation finds breath tests are unreliable

Judges in New Jersey and Massachusetts have tossed out over 30,000 alcohol breath tests due to human error and other issues in the last year, according to a new report from the New York Times. The report's findings cast doubt on the trustworthiness of breath tests being used by law enforcement agencies throughout the United States.

During an in-depth investigation into the accuracy of breath tests, reporters from the Times spoke with over 100 police officers, attorneys, scientists and executives. In addition, they analyzed thousands of court records, emails, contracts and business documents relating to the reliability of breath tests. They discovered that multiple things can skew results from the devices, including improperly mixed chemicals, programming errors and even certain foods. For example, they found that breath mints can throw off breath test results. They also found that calibration mistakes can cause results to appear 40% higher than they actually are.

Will my prenup benefit my divorce procedure?

Many people sign prenuptial agreements when they are blissfully in love and with a conviction that they will never have to go through a divorce. They may not think in detail about how signing the documents could affect their future. All prenuptial agreements are tailored to the specific financial circumstances and preferences of the couple. Whether you will be set to benefit from the terms of your prenuptial will depend heavily on the situation.

However, before assuming that a prenuptial agreement will lead to an unfair distribution of assets, consider the ways that it could make the divorce process less expensive and less stressful, paving the way for a more positive outcome overall.

Community service sentencing can reinforce inequity

People in New Jersey often think of community service sentences as providing a win-win situation. People who are convicted of crimes, usually misdemeanors with fines attached, may be able to work through their sentence without harsh jail time or hefty fines they cannot afford. At the same time, society can benefit from their labor. However, a study released by the Labor Center and School of Law at UCLA indicates that community service sentencing does not avoid the overall inequities and problems with the criminal justice system. In particular, researchers say that people serving these sentences may suffer many of the same effects associated with heavy court debt.

Researchers noted that community service sentencing particularly affects people with low incomes and communities of color. While it is touted as a humane alternative to fines and jail time, the study said that defendants' labor is undervalued. When compared to the cost of paying the fine, people may be sentenced to work many hours to pay it off, driving down the cost of their labor per hour. In addition, the researchers said that during the study period, 2013 to 2014, people in Los Angeles County were sentenced to 8 million hours of community service. This represents work that could have been done by 4,900 paid employees, exacerbating unemployment in surrounding communities and encouraging more prosecution and dependence on community service labor.

How arrest rates are affecting younger generations

New Jersey residents may be interested in learning that about one quarter of arrests are for consuming alcohol or drugs without permission. Statistics show that 9% of arrests for men and 8% of arrests for women are connected to drugs while 11% of arrests for women and 16% of arrests for men are linked to underage drinking.

This does not mean that all arrests are for minor or nonviolent crimes. The truth is that 19% of arrests for men and 28% of arrests for women are for things like theft, robbery and assault. Other misdemeanors represent around 31% of arrests for women and 28% for men.

Strategies to make it easier to sell a home

Homes in New Jersey don't always sell immediately after they are put on the market. Reasons such as a lack of curb appeal or an unkept interior could lead to major delays. Homeowners should take steps such as mowing the lawn or planting new grass to make the exterior look its best.

Sprucing up the inside of a home can be as easy as putting in new carpet or a new coat of paint on a cabinet. Even if a home looks great, a buyer may balk at paying the full list price. Homeowners tend to create a list price based on what they want to sell their homes for as opposed to what it is worth. Ideally, a seller will partner with an agent to determine an appropriate listing price.

Financial issues to think about during a divorce

Those who are going through a divorce in New Jersey may be stressed about how it will impact their finances. However, taking some time to understand the financial impact of a divorce before it happens can help ease a person's mind. The first step is to take an inventory of all financial assets that a person could have accumulated during a marriage. These assets could include a bank account, retirement account or stocks.

After inventorying these items, it is a good idea to learn more about they are taxed. For instance, an individual who takes money out of a retirement account could need to pay taxes on that money. Any taxes paid to the government will reduce the actual value of the retirement account. It would also reduce the value of any other asset that a person would need to pay taxes on after liquidating it.

Domestic violence claims can lead to restraining orders

Courts take domestic violence accusations seriously. The primary concern when someone makes a complaint is keeping the complainant safe, even though the accused person hasn't been convicted yet. One way this occurs is through restraining orders, which can include several points.

The purpose of a restraining order is to prevent the alleged abuser from having contact with the victim. It provides specific conditions to make this happen, and there are consequences for not abiding by the order.

Civil rights groups worry about police access to personal data

Police officers and federal agents usually must obtain search warrants if they wish to search a New Jersey resident's home or automobile, and judges will only authorize searches when they are presented with sufficient probable cause. However, the confidential personal data that individuals share with technology companies is far easier for law enforcement to access. Most companies only ask for a subpoena before handing over this information, and police officers can obtain a subpoena without probable cause.

Only California, Washington and Utah have laws in place that require search warrants to access confidential information, which is a state of affairs that has civil rights groups worried. Organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union say lawmakers and citizens are putting far too much trust in private corporations to protect rights against unreasonable search and seizure guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment. The ride-sharing company Uber says that it turned over information on more than 3,000 of its drivers and customers to police and federal agents in 2017. Only 231 of the 1,404 requests it received from law enforcement were accompanied by a search warrant.

Financial security during and after a divorce

When spouses in New Jersey get divorced, they need to be careful about their finances. It's good to start by creating a budget. This can be a temporary plan that's just for the next few months. As one settles into their new life and gets a realistic sense of their expenses, they can adjust everything for the longer term.

There are several points to consider when dividing marital assets. Exes should think about how much asset liquidity could be required and whether there are tax implications. For example, some types of retirement accounts are tax-free while others are not, and this will affect their actual value. A person who was married for at least 10 years might be able to draw on a higher-earning spouse's Social Security benefits for retirement purposes.

How parents can help children handle a divorce

Parents in New Jersey may find it difficult to process their emotions during a divorce. However, it can be just as difficult for children to process what is happening when their mothers and fathers are no longer together. Ideally, parents will encourage their children to talk to them about their feelings and to ask any questions that they may have. If a question asks for too much information, a parent can feel free to not answer or to answer in general terms.

Parents should try to get along with each other as much as possible. In many cases, allowing the other parent to spend time with a son or daughter can be helpful for the adult and the child. The child benefits because he or she gets to spend time with both parents. The parent benefits because he or she gets time to explore new interests or indulge in old pastimes.

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