NMA Alternative's Guide Touted

Article excerpt

The last thing anyone needs is another compendium of useless highway factoids, cheesy historical footnotes and directions to the nearest roadside zoo. So bravo to the National Motorists Association (NMA) for publishing the "Motorist's Guide to State and Provincial Traffic Laws" - it is actually useful.

In addition to divulging the lowdown - on a state-by-state basis for the United States and by province for Canada - about methods of speed-limit enforcement (radar, VASCAR, etc.), insurance and seat belt law requirements, legal procedures for fighting tickets, unlawful blood-alcohol levels, and so on, the NMA guide also walks you through an explanation of arcana that all motorists should be familiar with:

* Absolute speed limit: This refers to the speed limit that is unlawful to exceed under any circumstances.

* Prima facie speed limit: By exceeding a posted or statutory prima facie speed limit, a motorist is presumed guilty of speeding.

However, if a motorist can prove that the speed traveled was reasonable and prudent, the motorist could be found not guilty (good to know, eh?).

* Implied consent law: Laws that require a driver to submit to a breathalyzer or blood test if he or she is suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol. Refusal to take a breathalyzer or blood test usually involves a harsh penalty such as automatic license suspension.

NMA notes, however, that drivers are not required to take so-called "field sobriety tests" that require the performance of physical feats such as standing on one leg while reciting the alphabet backwards.

Most people don't realize this and police typically fail to inform motorists of the fact that while they may be required to submit to a breathalyzer or blood test, they absolutely do not have to perform like a trained seal for the cop's amusement.

* Nonresident compact state: Does the state share information about traffic violations with other states? In other words, will that ticket you got while traveling in Arkansas follow you home to Virginia and show up on your Virginia DMV record?

That's just a sampling of the many "terms and definitions" explained in detail in the guide. Each state's regulations pertaining to busybody child-restraint regulations, helmet laws, whether insurance paperwork must be kept in the vehicle, etc., is also provided.

And forewarned is forearmed!

Want more? How about a helpful section on how to handle a traffic stop (be courteous, do not argue with the cop; the information you should jot down, etc. …