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Hazardous Materials Training and Chemical Transport: The Department of Transportation and Explosives

State officials visit your office and fine you $50,000 for failing to train your personnel to handle and sign Hazardous Waste Manifests. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. The United States (US) Department of Transportation (DOT) is charged with oversight of our public roads and highways. Each of our country’s states also maintains its own ‘state’ Department of Transportation in order to more efficiently enforce federal mandates. The federal DOT gives authority to each state’s DOT to regulate the transport of our hazardous chemicals on both Interstate and Intrastrate highways, as well as enforce regulations.

The Interstate is that portion of highway that crosses state lines, whereas Intrastate is that portion of highway that is within the state lines.

Federal DOT regulations govern all states, however an individual state DOT can, and occasionally does, impose harsher regulations than the federal government. DOT is responsible for many things, some of which include maintenance and inspection of the bridges and ramps, snowplowing, obstructions and fallen trees, condition of commercial vehicles and the professionalism of the commercial drivers.

State DOT sometimes operates hundreds of trucks and wheeled equipment to carry personnel to work sites, repair other trucks, plow, and oversee the conditions of each mile of road. Even its trucks and drivers have to ascribe to regulations that private carriers must meet when hauling.

Usually DOT trucks do not haul large quantities of hazardous material (hazmat). However, DOT and commercial vehicles in the performance of normal work may carry a limited amount of hazmat in order to perform personal work in the course of a normal day’s work. These items might include propane gas, fuel for engines, degreasing liquid, spare batteries, etc. This type of hazmat is considered ORM, or Other Regulated Material.

Commercial trucks that haul chemicals are required to placard their vehicles and units with the type of hazardous chemical that they contain, such that emergency crews can respond appropriately in the event of a chemical release or spill.

We know that a tractor trailer is hauling Exposives when we visually see a placard on one of each of the four sides of the hauling unit. Hazard Class One (1) covers those items that are Explosive as per the United States (US) Department of Transportation (DOT). This class is further broken down into subclasses. Subclasses such as 1.1, 1.2, or 1.3, define different types of explosives ranging from very reactive explosives to blasting caps and “strike anywhere” matches. US DOT instituted the Hazardous Materials (Hazmat) Guidebook to help drivers, public safety officials, and emergency responders know what type of hazards our commercial tractor trailers were hauling over our raods. The book is broken up into 9 classes plus one category for ORM (Other Regulated Material).

The sign, or placard, for the Explosive hazard class is an Orange one and is marked with a picture of a bomb detonation. It also has the numbers 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, etc. attached at the bottom of the 4 sided diamond shape. This placard must be attached to be clearly seen on all four sides of the unit carrying the material. It must also be attached when there is any amount stowed in the unit.

The DOT Hazmat book lists hundreds of specific and general chemicals and hazardous materials. If one knows the type of chemical to be shipped, one could look it up in the DOT book for an understanding as to which hazard class it may be. While the DOT has done a good job with classifying many chemicals and explosives, the book is not totally thorough. DOT has laid out general guidelines that allow the generator of the hazardous material to classify it as best they can for the safety of the operator, unit, and public.

The Hazmat book also states how the actual material should be packed inside the hauling unit. In the book, DOT defines types of packaging such as drums, pallets, totes, boxes, tanks, pails, and cylinders. These containers must be certified by the manufacturer to withstand certain types of pressure tests without rupturing or spilling the contents. Some substances can not be packed in certain containers, and in no case may a container be visually damaged or leaky, or used in such a fashion as to degrade its safety. Each container must be marked with the same type of Explosive sticker that is also a 4 inch by 4 inch, 4 sided diamond. A miniture placard of sorts.

Many training companies offer DOT Hazmat Training for the shipper, driver and receiving facility. Compliance with federal regulations is mandatory and training records must show that personnel have been trained to handle hazardous chemicals correctly.

Court Reporters and The Equipments They Use in the Court of Law

Court Reporters are a fascinating bunch. I always wonder how they stay under control despite all the things that happen around them in the court of law. As the parades of witnesses come and go, you can see them pound away or talk into the equipments that help them do their jobs.

It is obvious very few people pay attention or understand the equipments that help court reporters perform their jobs so efficiently. In this article, I examine these equipments.

The court reporter uses two primary equipments in the performance of his or her job. They are the Stenograph and the Silencer.

I will start out by talking about the stenograph.

The stenograph also known as stenotype is a specialized typewriter used by court reporters to do their jobs. It is designed to allow for shorthand typing. The keyboard is compact like that of a piano. The symbols on the keyboard are phrases or words. They are translated or transcribed in real-time to computers.

A good court reporter using a stenotype can type up to 300 words per minute. It is this speed that allows the court reporter to capture all the things said in the court of law.

The number one manufacturer of the stenotype machine is the Stenograph Corporation. The corporate headquarter is at Mount Prospect, Illinois. They manufacture manual or automated machines. Some of them are even wireless.

The second and last court reporter equipment I will cover is the Silencer. The silencer is a hand held mask that contains a microphone. The reporter uses this silencer for voice writing.

Using the voice-writing method, a court reporter speaks directly into the silencer. As the reporter repeats the testimony into the recorder, the mask on the silencer prevents the reporter from being heard during testimony. The silencer records everything that is said by judges, witnesses, attorneys, and other parties in the court. The silencer can even capture gestures and emotional reactions.

A leading manufacturer of silencers is the AudioScribe Corporation. They are located in Breaux Bridge, LA.

There you have it. If you were ever wondering about court reporters and their equipment, you don’t have to wonder any more.

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DUI & Drug Christmas Crackdown and the Twelve Days of Law Enforcement Prowling

We’ll its the Holiday Season, whoop dee do, as law enforcement will soon be all over you. Christmas time is prime time for DUI and drug arrests. Whether its the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office Trafficking & Distribution Drug Interdiction Team or aggressive DUI patrols in Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River or Brevard County, keep your eyes wide open, your hands on the wheel and don’t drive impaired or do anything illegal. Again, impairment or drunk driving can be because of alcohol or prescription medication. Whatever the case, I’ll be providing you with my twelve days of Christmas – Criminal Defense attorney style – well, during the next twelve days – up until the big day.

Again, as I have often stated, don’t do drugs, sell drugs or drive drunk. However, if you do find yourself doing those things, you still have rights. Note that law enforcement will be on heightened alert during the holiday season. You’ve scene the adds on t.v. They are cracking down on drunk drivers. So we’ll start the twelve days of Christmas by letting you be aware that on day one law enforcement may kick off their prowling by setting up DUI checkpoints. Often times they will even let local media know that they are setting up DUI checkpoints where they will be stopping cars. Now they wont’ pull over every car, but they will determine in advance, by a formal document, that they’ll pull over a particular number of car consistently. Thus, buy using a predetermined number, they can argue that they are not picking on particular drivers. Again, this system is not full proof. Accordingly, if the cops don’t conduct it correctly, a good DUI attorney might be able to suppress the stop.

Day two might involve police pulling speeders over. Day two might involve stopping people for defective equipment such as inoperative tag lights. Day three might involve stopping folks for expired or obscured tags. Day four might involve stopping folks for swerving or following too closely. Day five might involve stopping folks for loud music. Day six might involve them patrolling the parking lots of bar. Day seven might involve them hiding behind bridges or other objects to catch folks running, or doing California, or rolling stops, at traffic and stop lights. Day seven might involve them walking up to you while your sitting in a car and noticing that you’re impaired. Day seven might involve them stopping folks for littering while they’re driving. Day eight might involve them stopping people for failure to wear a seat belt. Day nine might involve them stopping motorists for window tint violations. Day ten might involve them stopping motorists for failure to secure their children in car seats. Day eleven might involve them stopping people for obscuring their back windows. Day twelve might involve them stopping you for obstruction of other traffic by pulling too far into the intersection or for waiting for the light to cycle too many times. Bye now, if there is anything they can do to stop you to see if there is alcohol on your breath, and if your exhibiting signs of impairment, they will do it. Frankly, there are even more things they can do to stop you, but the ones I listed above are the most common.

Now, let me slightly switch gears, but still continue to focus on your rights and protecting them. Any good lawyer will tell you, “don’t give the cops permission to search your car and don’t give law enforcement permission to come into your home without a warrant.: They’ll be jumpy to jump, or better yet, to get, in your car or house. Who is to say, that someone you don’t know or trust, left you – a law abiding citizen – with something illegal in your car or house that you didn’t know about it. Also, be careful who you allow to drive in your car or live in your home. Who knows what they are doing, and what they may trafficking, distributing or manufacturing. Happy Holidays and be safe out there.