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Reminder: Extra DUI enforcement St. Patrick's Day weekend

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, drunk driving accounts for almost a third of U.S. traffic fatalities each year.

DUI can also get you arrested, and a Tennessee DUI conviction is a very serious matter. During the 2017 St. Patrick's Day enforcement push, 103 people were arrested on suspicion of DUI.

Another state considers lowering DUI BAC limit to 0.05 percent

The state of California is considering two, tough new DUI bills. One would lower the per se blood alcohol content (BAC) for a DUI to 0.05 percent, following the lead of Utah and the recommendation of the National Transportation Safety Board. The other bill would make a fifth DUI within 10 years a felony offense.

As we've mentioned before on this blog, changes to other states' drunk driving laws are important to Tennesseans for a couple of reasons. First, you may travel to those states and run afoul of the new laws. Second, the changes may be part of a trend that could eventually come to Tennessee. For example, the National Transportation Safety Board has been urging states around the country to lower their BAC limits to 0.05.

What to tell your teen about underage drinking

For teenagers, summer is synonymous with freedom. Whether it's newfound financial independence with a seasonal job, transportation freedom with a license or just the opportunity to spend time with friends any time of day, summer is a big deal. This increase in social activity can also bring temptation to engage in illegal behavior such as underage drinking.

With freedom comes responsibility to make good choices. As a parent, it can be difficult to let go and allow your teenager to make their own decisions - and yes, mistakes. As your teen starts their summer break, here are four things to discuss with them about underage drinking.

FDA: Asbestos found in Claire's Stores cosmetics containing talc

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, its regulatory framework of 80 years needs to be updated to test the safety of cosmetics. Currently, cosmetics manufacturers are not required to test their products for safety before selling them on the American market. The FDA has proposed working with Congress to remedy that.

The proposal comes after a safety alert in which the FDA identified four talc-based cosmetics sold at the retail chain store Claire's. The FDA says that the Claire's compact powder, contour palette and eye shadows it tested contained asbestos.

Are narcissists bad drivers?

In Greek mythology, many loved the hunter Narcissus for his beauty, but he showed them contempt and disdain. It seems many fellow narcissists exhibit similar behavior on the road. (A narcissist is someone who has an inflated sense of self-importance or who has an excessive interest in or admiration of themselves).

Psychological scientists from Ohio State University and the University of Luxembourg hypothesized that narcissism could predict aggressive driving behavior, which causes more than half of the traffic accidents in the United States each year.

Will a Missouri Supreme Court ruling help J&J in its talc cases?

Johnson & Johnson (J&J) is being sued nationwide for exposing users of its talc-based products, including J&J Baby Powder, to asbestos despite knowing the risk. They are accused of hiding evidence that the talc used in their products was contaminated with asbestos. Plaintiffs claim they used the products-often on themselves and their children-for daily routine hygiene, only to later develop mesothelioma or ovarian cancer.

Approximately 700 cases have been filed in St. Louis's 22nd Circuit Court, which has a great deal of experience in asbestos-related cases. Since some of the cases involve plaintiffs who are not residents of St. Louis or Missouri, J&J appealed to the Missouri Supreme Court to have the non-resident cases dismissed.

Could you comply with Canada's new THC limit for driving?

There's an easy way to comply with Canada's new impaired driving law for marijuana: Don't use marijuana at all. Considering that marijuana is now legal for recreational purposes in Canada, however, you ideally wouldn't have to avoid marijuana completely in order to be legal to drive.

The effects of THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis, are only effective for a couple of hours. (The Canadian government says cautiously that it could be active for up to 12 hours.) The problem is that THC is stored in fat, and traces of it remain detectible for a month or more. Logically, people are not impaired after the few hours of intoxication, yet people still have THC in their systems long after the intoxication period is over.

An exploding e-cigarette claims another life

A study by Tobacco Control found over 2,000 instances of e-cigarettes, also known as vape pens, exploding and causing burn injuries between 2015 and 2017. The injuries are often severe, as vape pens are used by mouth and typically stored in the user's pocket. The U.S. Fire Administration says that the explosions and burns are due to the lithium ion batteries used by most manufacturers.

"It is this intimate contact between the body and the battery that is most responsible for the severity of the injuries that have been seen," the organization said in a report.

Does breath test refusal use violate self-incrimination clause?

The Supreme Court of Georgia has just made an interesting ruling in the area of DUI. When someone refuses to take a preliminary breath test offered by police, that refusal cannot be used against them in the DUI trial. The justices reasoned that using a refusal against the driver would violate the Georgia Constitution's protection against self-incrimination.

Here in Tennessee, refusing to take a breath test is a civil violation that results in the revocation of your driver's license. The reasoning is that every driver, by virtue of using Tennessee's roads, gives their implied consent for reasonable DUI testing. By withdrawing this consent (refusing to blow into a breathalyzer), the driver forfeits his or her driver's license.

Is the EPA violating the law by not requiring asbestos reporting?

"There is overwhelming consensus in the scientific community that there is no safe level of exposure to asbestos," reads a lawsuit recently filed by several public health groups.

That's true. Asbestos was once in use throughout the American economy, although there was suspicion it was potentially harmful. It was finally recognized as a human carcinogen (cancer causer) in the 1970s. It has been shown to cause the deadly lung cancer mesothelioma, along with other cancers, and certain non-malignant lung diseases like asbestosis

The Environmental Protection Agency banned the use of asbestos in 1989. However, a federal court of appeals overturned that ban two years later, and asbestos is still used in several industries. Even some household products contain asbestos.

The public health groups currently suing the EPA include the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, the American Public Health Association, the Center for Environmental Health, the Environmental Working Group and the Environmental Health Strategy Center.

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