Driver

"While We’re Young," a new film by Noah Baumbach, chronicles the story of straight-laced, middle-aged couple as they dive headfirst into a midlife crisis after befriending a significantly younger couple.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of A24 Films | Daily Texan Staff

“While We’re Young” serves as an amusing and poignant satire of the hipster generation. It playfully mocks “artsy” New York millennials while exploring a range of more serious topics including midlife crises and the difficulty of making authentic, creative work. The acting, and particularly performances by Ben Stiller and Adam Driver, perfectly conveys the seemingly insurmountable generation gap between the young and old. Although it occasionally juggles too many themes at one time, “While We’re Young” takes a quirky, clever look at people who are determined to feed off each other’s energy.

Josh (Stiller), a documentary filmmaker, has spent eight years working on his masterpiece — much to the chagrin of his restless wife, Cornelia (Naomi Watts). Their tedious life is interrupted when the pair encounter Jamie (Driver), who is a fan of Josh’s work, and his girlfriend Darby (Amanda Seyfried). The young couple are humorous flag-bearers for the middle-class hipster lifestyle: They collect vinyls, write exclusively with typewriters and believe the world is theirs for the taking. Josh and Cornelia, who seek to feel youthful again, quickly become obsessed with the young couple. When Josh begins working on Jamie’s new documentary, he discovers that Jamie’s seemingly authentic vision and overall genial attitude may
be misleading.

Director and writer Noah Baumbach knows how to use hipsters for hilarious comedy fodder. He doesn’t waste any of this rich material. Nearly every joke hits its target, whether Baumbach is employing physical comedy (Josh and Darby dancing frantically to hip-hop) or taking a more subtle approach (detailing Jamie’s arrogance and pretension). The strange world Jamie and Darby occupy is a huge comedic highlight. The film hits on all the stereotypes millenials tend to attract, but the digs never feel malevolent or overdone. 

Stiller gives a heartfelt performance as the ambitious Josh. His character’s obsession with finding truth and artistic beauty in filmmaking is inspiring, and his overall fear of failure feels sincere and urgent. Driver’s cocky attitude keeps the film moving, while his character’s self-confidence and sheer smugness make him fun to hate. Watts’ sympathetic character experiences incredible self-doubt in her life, especially as she starts wondering whether not having children with Josh was a missed opportunity. Seyfried charms as Jamie’s girlfriend — it’s intriguing to see a character come to grips with the notion that her entire lifestyle is just one, big passing fad.

“While We’re Young” attempts to explore many themes, and its narrative at times feels engaged in a balancing act. The film focuses on Josh and Cornelia as they worry about growing old and explore a younger, hipper world. Simultaneously, the story attempts to address the morals of documentary filmmaking. Josh cares about seeking the truth, while Jamie willingly manipulates facts for the benefit of an interesting story.

Although it’s interesting to see how filmmakers of two different generations tackle the same ethical dilemmas, the film’s transition from midlife crises to the ethics of filmmaking feels too sudden. Baumbach tries to give each plot equal focus, but the
combination isn’t smooth. They hardly mesh together, and the result feels rushed. The film’s narrative may have been cleaner if it had one theme to take a dominant role.

“While We’re Young” looks at the humorous rise of the hipster generation while also delivering touching messages about growing old and using art to find “the truth.” Although the film feels unfocused at times, the stellar comedy and richly drawn characters make up for that small shortcoming.

Rep. Chris Paddie, author of the bill discussed Thursday, asks speakers about their arguments for and against legislation to regulate ride-sharing companies such as Lyft and Uber.

Photo Credit: Griffin Smith | Daily Texan Staff

Uber and Lyft, ride-sharing companies popular with many UT students, may soon be regulated on a state level in a shift from the current policy.

Lawmakers on the House transportation committee heard a bill Thursday that would allow the state, rather than individual cities, to set operation guidelines for Transportation Networking Companies. The debate centered on whether cities should be able to regulate background check policies for Lyft and Uber drivers. 

If passed, HB 2440 would allow the state to implement certain standardized operation guideline and require a yearly $115,000 operation fee and background checks conducted by the transportation network company or a third party. The bill was left pending in committee.

“The needs for this bill became apparent after the TNC were met with a patchwork of regulations in each of the cities they’ve attempted to operate in,” said Rep. Chris Paddie (R-Marshall), primary author of the bill.

Uber spokesperson Sally Kay said ride-sharing companies should be regulated by the state and should be allowed to conduct their own background checks.

“What we are seeing now on a national scale is that this issue is going to state jurisdiction,” Kay said.

The hearing followed recent controversy regarding driver background checks by ride-sharing companies operating in San Antonio and Houston.

Last week, an Uber driver  in Houston was accused of sexually assaulting a passenger, a crime city officials said could have been prevented if the ride-sharing service used city background checks, according to an article by the Houston Chronicle. 

In San Antonio, city representatives issued an ordinance giving the city oversight in driver background checks and requiring fingerprint tests for Lyft and Uber drivers. These tests are required for cab drivers.

Both Uber and Lyft said they would leave San Antonio if the new regulations are enforced.

Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo spoke at the hearing in opposition to the bill.

“Cities such as Austin should be able to embrace these new transportation options on their own terms — and to adopt regulations we believe offer the best protection for both our residents, but also our many welcomed visitors to Austin,” Tovo said.

Currently, Austin regulates TNCs under temporary ordinances. The city’s regulations require more than Uber and Lyft standard operation measures do, and mandate drivers hold additional insurance. The city also requires Lyft and Uber to allow city audits of their background checks.

“Together, we created an ordinance that really works well for TNCs, but also works well for the city of Austin,” Tovo said.

Victor Gabriel Encarnacion, undeclared junior and a Lyft and Uber driver, said he went through thorough vetting before getting hired He said he thinks cities should maintain control of ride-share regulations.

“For a city like Austin, which is a lot more concentrated in population, it would make sense for us to have city regulation instead simply because if it was a state-regulated issue, it would be irrelevant for cities that don’t have it,” Encarnacion said.

Pharmacy senior Brandi Rodriguez, who said she uses Uber regularly, said states should have jurisdiction.

“I think anything having to deal with safety and stuff — it should be on more of a state level,” Rodriguez said. 

Photo Credit: Crystal Garcia | Daily Texan Staff

More students are including genuine personal information when creating fake IDs for themselves, according to UT police.

“Lately, we’ve been seeing driver’s licenses that [have] the person’s picture on it, has their name on it, has their address on it, has their driver’s license number on it — has everything on it, except a different date of birth,” UTPD officer William Pieper said. “What students don’t realize is that we tend to run those driver’s license numbers, and, when we run it, the computer comes back with their correct date of birth.”

A public relations sophomore, who requested anonymity to avoid legal repercussions, said he uses his fake ID at least once a week at grocery stores and bars downtown. 

“It’s a pretty legit one — it’s not paper, it’s actually laminated — and has my name, my face, basically everything about me, except my address,” the student said.

Police officers usually encounter students with fake driver’s licenses after they stop students for other criminal activity, such as underage drinking, Pieper said. 

“When I ask to see their driver’s license, [students] hold it very close to their chest … because they don’t want me to see their drinking ID,” Pieper said.

 Pieper said officers are sworn to uphold the law, which prohibits people under 21 from drinking alcohol, but said officers can sometimes use their own discretion when deciding what charges to file. 

“If [someone is] involved in another offense — say we stop somebody for minor in possession of alcohol — and they’re also in possession of a driver’s license and a fictitious [license], we may file one charge and not the other, but we’ll just document that they were in possession of a fictitious one,” Pieper said.

Most of the time, the punishment for having a fake ID is a Class C misdemeanor involving a fine of up to $500, Pieper said. The offense can be a felony under certain circumstances, he said.

“You get into felony grade where you’re talking about producing your own [ID] or tampering with a government document, or having one to defraud or harm somebody else,” Pieper said. “Then you’re going to prison — not a local jail, prison — for at least a year,” Pieper said.

Political communications junior Sebastian Lopez, who works as a bouncer for a bar on Sixth Street, said he sees fake IDs every night.

 “Nearly one out of 20 IDs [is fake], and there could be nearly hundreds of people in and out of the bar throughout the night,” Lopez said. “The easiest way [to prove an ID is fake] is when a patron shows a picture of someone that is clearly not them.”

Lopez said he denies those with fake IDs entry into the bar and then either keeps the fake or gives it back based on the person’s attitude.

Pieper said he wants students to assess if having a fake ID is worth it in the long run.

“A big reason for that age is based on maturity levels and based on experience levels — when people are younger and drinking, they’re more like to partake in risky behavior and be a harm to [themselves],” Pieper said. 

A police officer rides a bike down Guadalupe Street.

Photo Credit: Lauren Ussery | Daily Texan Staff

Who is right — the driver or the cyclist? Well, it depends. We’ve all seen it: a situation in which a cyclist gets cut off by a car and demands an apology. Perhaps the cyclist, in his or her anger, is right to yell and scream at the person within the vehicle blasting music and being completely oblivious to the outside world. Alternatively, perhaps the cyclist needs to take a step back and understand the moving parts in this sort of situation.

One morning last week, I went to fill up my car at the Chevron station across from Ken’s Donuts. At the pump, as the numbers adjacent to “sale” were regrettably moving a lot faster than those adjacent to “gallons,” I witnessed one of these battles of the machines. 

A Ken’s customer had just exited the store. She got into her SUV, paused and began to back up. If you have ever driven to Ken’s, you know that it is not the easiest place to safely back out of. Guadalupe Street curves right after the store, making it difficult to view oncoming traffic. Nevertheless, the SUV reversed and almost hit a cyclist; it cut off another. The cyclist that was cut off began screaming words at the car that The Daily Texan might not like to print. Who was in the wrong here, and how should we address the overall problem of the coexistence of drivers and cyclists on the road?

In this instance, it could probably be best argued that the SUV committed the offense. Although the bicycles were moving fast around the blind corner, the driver should have taken more care to check her surroundings. Of course, incidents like this are not representative of the typical driver or cyclist. However, tussles like this one are very common around campus. Who has the rightful claim to the road? It isn’t black and white.

According to Texas bicycle law, “bicyclists have the rights and duties of other vehicle operators.” Driving relies on trust and the respect of the law. It is a dangerous place, but you expect other vehicles not to kill you. Things run smoothly when people understand their role on the road and have a mutual respect for other drivers. I would argue that this needs to also apply to the relationship between drivers and cyclists. 

In this complex relationship, there are distinct roles for the two sides that must be recognized. First, the driver of the large vehicle clearly has the power to defy the cyclist. The driver needs to understand this power and use it responsibly. Cyclists may be annoying to work with, but that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve respect on the road. Secondly, the cyclist’s role is one of understanding and submission. You play chicken with two bikes, not a car and a bike. Nobody wants to run you off the road. It can just be difficult to deal with a cyclist on an already busy road.

Drivers have their lanes, and now cyclists have their own protected lanes on Guadalupe. When we encounter each other on the road, let’s be courteous and show mutual respect. Drivers, understand your power and don’t abuse it. Cyclists, hang in there and remember that the driver probably can’t hear you when you’re yelling at them. Oh, and remember that the kumbaya circle meets on the south mall tonight. Hope to see y’all there.

Olsen is a finance senior from Argyle.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

Editor’s Note: Associate Editor Noah M. Horwitz is lobbying on behalf of cab companies this summer in Houston, where on Wednesday the City Council voted to allow Lyft and Uber to operate. Horwitz was not involved in any way in the editing of this column.

Getting downtown on a Friday night from anywhere in Austin is more than a hassle, and being forgotten about by taxis during peak hours does not make it any better. A friend told me about Lyft, an app that would provide a car and driver at the push of a button. In the 15 minutes it took me to download the app, put in my information and request a ride, a car with a pink mustache across the front pulled up in front of our house and we were on our way with Starbursts and water provided by our driver. We’d found a solution.

But I was surprised to learn after describing my discovery to another friend that transportation networking companies (TNCs) like Lyft and Uber, which have both launched branches in Austin within the past three months, are actually considered illegal by officials not just in Austin, but also in other big cities like New York City and Brussels. Despite the official cease and desist orders, Lyft and Uber continue to operate in Austin.

Austin is a tech-savvy city, often welcoming creative alternatives to traditionally stable industries, so the pushback from the city comes as somewhat of a surprise. Samantha Alexander, public information and marketing manager at the Austin Transportation Department said, “A ground transportation company must have an operating authority permit in the City of Austin in order to provide ground transportation services. At this time, [Lyft and Uber] do not have the required operating authority.” A resolution adopted by the city in May cites concerns such as compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, driver qualifications and vehicle inspections that have implications for rider safety and equality.

In this light, TNCs operating in Austin without the required permits offer a service without complying with regulations to which competing entities must adhere, theoretically giving TNCs an unfair advantage. But the undeniable popularity of TNCs show that there is something fundamental lacking in the current on-demand transportation system, whether it’s user interface or simply the quantity of drivers, to which TNCs provide an answer. Instead of banning them, the city needs to analyze why people are using TNCs and use that information to improve the existing regulations.

“The laws have anti-discriminating components to them,” said Ed Kargbo, president of Yellow Cab Austin. “The City of Austin sets the rates so that on-demand transportation services are affordable for everyone in the city, so the folks that have more money don’t get to cut the line. You can’t increase the price when people are most desperate for transportation,” Kargbo said.

In a hypothetical anecdote, Kargbo described a situation where, in a system of variable rates, people with means get to skip the line while an elderly lady on a fixed income that needs to get to a dialysis appointment has to wait.

“It would be an unfair system. The city is playing their role as protector of the consumer,” Kargbo said.

But this anecdote only works when on-demand transportation services are considered a right rather than a privilege and are therefore not subject to the free market. TNCs take the existing taxi model and apply a prototypical capitalist supply-demand price scheme, notoriously with Uber’s notorious surge-pricing where fares increase with demand, and entrepreneurial opportunity for the drivers. This innovation shakes up an established system with old ideas.

Launched before the first Formula One race held in Austin, Yellow Cab’s Hail A Cab mobile app offers many of the same features of the TNCs, including taxi requests at the push of a button, GPS tracking of the certified driver and estimated time of arrival.  When asked about the difference between Hail A Cab and the TNCs, Kargbo said they are very similar.

“It is just another method that allows people to connect to a potential transportation provider,” Kargbo said.

According to Kargbo, one out of every three Yellow Cab trips is dispatched through the app.

But despite regulatory concerns, TNCs offer an important alternative in the existing transportation structure.

TNCs allow opportunities for drivers who, after a background check, can use their own car and connect with riders via a mobile platform. As participants in the emerging ‘sharing economy,’ TNCs provide peer-to-peer opportunities for drivers to make money through innovative use of an asset otherwise intended for personal use, in addition to providing alternative transportation solutions for riders. After requesting a ride, the rider can see the name and picture of the driver and the car, know how long until they are picked up and track the driver along the way. The rider’s fare and tip payment are made directly through the app; no money is exchanged directly between rider and driver.  

Marketing senior Jessica Wong first tried Lyft after hearing about the promotions offering free rides to first-time users, including the driver’s tip.

“The whole Lyft experience is great,” Wong said. “I've always had pretty personable drivers, and I'm always offered waters and snacks in the car. The GPS tracking is a huge plus; you know exactly where your driver is and exactly how long it'll take for them to get you, and it helps that they include a picture of the driver and the car. Its convenience far outweighs a taxi. Cost-wise they're not so different, but amenities-wise Lyft and Uber far outweigh a taxi service.”

According to Uber Spokesperson Lauren Altmin, the TNCs provide an alternative to drunk driving. The company estimates that the entrance of Uber in Seattle caused the number of arrests for DUI to decrease by more than 10 percent. In a city that made 46 DWI arrests during the July 4 weekend alone this year, TNCs could provide much needed relief to an already burdened Austin taxi fleet.

TNCs have found an underserved on-demand transportation market in Austin which has allowed them to thrive, a market whose demands Kargbo thinks the cab companies can meet.

“Our hope is that the city leaders, as a byproduct of this, recognize that there is a need for more taxi cabs because they provide the same service,” Kargbo said. The city currently has a cap of 756 registered cabs that can be in operation at all times. “[Consumers] want more on demand transportation providers. We hope that over the course of the next few months the city takes action to stop the illegal operators.”

Because of the sheer demand for on-demand transportation providers, the city has not completely given up on TNC alternatives. “Our team has been meeting with representatives from TNCs, the taxi industry and a handful of other stakeholders to discuss a possible pilot program for TNCs in Austin,” Alexander said. “We intend to bring that back to Council this fall or early winter, and then it will be at the City Council’s discretion as to what the next steps could be.” This fall will be pivotal in the Austin transportation world with the continued debate over TNCs as well as the fate of the proposed urban rail plan being decided. The TNC debate in Houston found a solution Wednesday, allowing taxis hailed through an app to fluctuate their prices depending on demand while taxis hailed on the street must adhere to the metered rate. While this specific solution has its own unique concerns, it presents a creative precedent that welcomes innovation and opportunity for Houstonians. Acknowledging regulatory and equality concerns, the city of Austin must consider a tailored solution in its pilot program that integrates TNCs into the existing system to provide the efficient and affordable transportation network Austin needs.

Haight is a Plan II and linguistics senior from Austin.

This column has been updated to reflect the Houston City Council's decision on TNCs.

Police block off the roads after the SXSW car accident on March 13. After the accident, service organizations have been left to decide how to distribute more than $180,000 in funds raised to assist victims and their families.

Photo Credit: Shelby Tauber | Daily Texan Staff

Rashad Charjuan Owens, the driver indicted in the South By Southwest crash in March, made his first public appearance since his arrest before the 147th District Court Judge Clifford Brown during a Wednesday pretrial.

Brown reset Owens’ next court appearance for July 8. Members of Owens’ family attending the Wednesday court appearance declined to comment.

In May, a Travis County grand jury indicted Owens on one count of capital murder, four counts of felony murder and 24 counts of aggravated assault, according to the district clerk’s office.

Police have previously confirmed Owens was driving while intoxicated as he fled police and drove a stolen car through a crowd of people on Red River Street on March 13. Capital murder charges were filed after Jamie West, 27, and Steven Craenmehr, 35, died at the scene. In the two weeks after the crash, Deandre Tatum, 18, and Sandy Le, 26, died.

Since his arrest, Owens has been in Travis County Jail with bail set at $5.5 million.

After the crash, Austin City Council approved a full-scale review of SXSW on March 27. As part of the review, the city has reached out to the community for feedback on how to improve the safety and security of the two-week festival.

A post-event survey conducted by the Austin Center for Events revealed that 49 percent of the 850 respondents attended SXSW events unregistered. Fifty-seven percent of the respondents also voted against the city working alongside the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission to limit the amount of hours that alcohol is served during SXSW events.

Responses to the 19 questions asked by the survey concluded that traffic and transportation remains a top priority for city events.

The weather on Thursday was fantastic — 65 and sunny, with a slight breeze — an idyllic last day of class for many seniors on the 40 Acres and a perfect day to celebrate and encourage bicycle commuting as a sustainable, healthy and fun way of reaching campus through UT’s annual “Bike to UT Day” kickoff, part of the broader national Bicycle Month celebration. However, the celebratory mood soured as news of 47 cyclists receiving tickets in North Campus spread Thursday morning. The ticketing was part of the Austin Police Department’s “special assignment bike initiative” aimed at increasing pedestrian, cyclist and vehicular safety near campus.

When I perused comments on KUT’s piece about the incident in the late afternoon, it seemed that commenters were generally toeing along generational and socioeconomic divides, with older Austinites commending the ticketing and emphasizing that the large student and young professional population in Austin needs to ride with respect if they want to receive respect, while students protested that the ‘sting’ adversely affected those living on student wages and could have negative effects on cycling modal share to campus.

Specific comments I heard on campus throughout the day were that students regularly feel crowded by the small (and unsafe) passing distance afforded to them by cars and buses at the specific 5-way intersection where the ticketing took place, that the intersection was hard to accelerate through on an uphill in the northern direction, that cars, and the infrastructure that favors them, are the real problem at play across our city. Some said that APD should be out after “real” problems, like drunk drivers.

As a student, a cyclist and a lifelong Austinite from a cycling-savvy family, I think solution to this conflict lies somewhere in the middle, and I don’t really think these two generations of Austinites disagree as much as they think they do. I believe that APD was right in its statement that the areas around campus have become increasingly dangerous for everyone as density soars and pedestrians, cyclists and cars are left to mingle together. However, I also believe that ticketing is not the silver bullet. Protected bike lanes, clear pedestrian signals at busy intersections and enforcement regarding vehicular misbehavior are needed in tandem (no pun intended) with cyclist cooperation. This need for change is reflected in UT’s master plan, and in the city’s plans as well, but change is slow to catch up with a burgeoning population. As students and citizens, we need to stand up and demand that change. For ourselves, for future Longhorns, and for the ghost bikes that are locked up around town, tributes to too many downed cyclists — of the nine current bikes around town, six stand for clear victims of drunk driving, hit and runs, or vehicular negligence, with one the result of a tire blowout and the other two lacking clear information regarding cause of death.

It should be heavily weighted here that we live in a car-oriented, vehicle dominated world, and it is truly the ethical responsibility of the driver of a two-ton steel box to respect the rights of pedestrians and 30-lb bicycles to utilize our shared roadways. The share of trips being made by bicycle is increasing across the country with cycling billed as a $6.1 billion dollar industry in 2012 by the League of American Bicyclists. But just as our infrastructure is lagging, our social and legal culture hasn’t caught up with the increase of city cycling — according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2012 4,743 pedestrians and 726 cyclists were killed by vehicular traffic — a 6.5 percent increase from 2011, indicating that the road is certainly not being shared well in many places across the nation.

The long-term solution to this completely unnecessary loss of life doesn’t just depend on infrastructure improvements and fair enforcement, but also hinges on education. Unpredictable riders can be just as detrimental to cyclist and pedestrian safety as the drivers who don't find it necessary to give us space, or see fit to use their turn signals—I’ve never heard of a cyclist causing an accident in which a driver died, but the opposite case is rampant across the country, and we can all do ourselves a service by giving vehicles the utmost reason to respect us—something that certainly won’t happen if they see us as a lawless bunch. In short, much needs to change on the “other side” of law enforcement, driver behavior, and street infrastructure—all this on an order of magnitude higher than cyclists coming to full stops at intersections free of traffic—but I don't believe we can conscientiously shout for changes quite as loudly if we're in the wrong as well. There’s only so much I can say to a non-cyclist when I’m advocating for improved bike lanes on and near campus, and they ask me if that will stop them from getting run down in crosswalks or at stop signs. I emphasize to them that walking down the middle of Speedway texting isn’t safe for anyone, but I also admit that I, and my cycling community, need to play our part to keep the road safe. On that note, again, tickets are not the solution, because while they can be purged from one’s record with an ACA defensive cycling course, warnings offer a much more conversational and productive learning atmosphere than the anger I heard from my classmates this morning.

The good news in all of this is that we as students are good at standing up for things that we believe in. I’ve seen it time and time again in my four years on campus, and I hope that the anger felt by the ticketed will become a productive conversation between the city, the university, and the population of both, about making better infrastructure and policies (such as Idaho’s stop law which allows cyclists to treat stop signs as yield signals) as well as personal safety decisions that will protect our entire campus and city community. I believe that cycling is a social and sustainable good, as well as a positive personal health choice, and while pedestrians may not feel it at this point in time on campus, safe cycling streets are also safe walking streets, with ample space away from cars. Cycling is empowering in every sense, and I hope that the sense we can do something—anything, from riding safely individually, to being aware of where we’re walking, to getting involved in advocacy— is the takeaway from Thursday’s sting operation. Whether next steps for you mean attending a cycling course, visiting UT’s own Orange Bike Project workshop or attending a Longhorn Bike Coalition meeting in the fall, I hope that you stand in solidarity with those who received tickets Thursday by taking note of systemic problems, and then by working collectively to make our community a safe and productive place for all Longhorns.

Mixon is a Plan II and environmental science senior from Austin. She lives in Hyde Park and cycles to campus daily. Roland, also a daily commuter, is an environmental science senior from Midlothian. Roland assisted in the compilation of statistics for this piece. Both Mixon and Roland are members of the Longhorn Bicycle Coalition, and will be co-directing the Campus Environmental Center for the 2014-15 academic year.

A status hearing for Rashad Owens, the driver charged in the crash during South By Southwest that killed four people and left more than 20 injured, was reset to June 3.

Police filed the initial charge of capital murder after Jamie West, 27, and Steven Craenmehr, 35, died at the scene. Deandre Tatum, 18, and Sandy Le, 26, died in the two weeks following the crash.

Owens is facing one count of capital murder and 24 counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Police say Owens was driving while intoxicated when he fled police and drove a stolen car through a crowd of people on Red River Street on March 13.

Three UT students, Greg Cerna, computer science and electrical engineering sophomore, Maria Belyaeva, computer science and radio-television-film sophomore and computer science sophomore Ryan Freeman, were victims of the crash. 

District Court clerk Kay Bennett said Owens’ hearing was rescheduled because his case has not yet been indicted.

Owens has remained in Travis County Jail since his arrest with a bond set at $5.5 million, according to the Travis County Sheriff’s Office records.

On March 27, Austin City Council approved a resolution to launch a full-scale review of South By Southwest activities as they relate to city safety and capacity. Councilman Mike Martinez, who drafted the proposal, said the crash prompted the motion.

Consistency is no longer as important as winning.

On Thursday NASCAR updated its format to the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Three key changes highlight the new system.

In an attempt to reward winning in the first 26 races of the season, NASCAR decided that any driver who wins during the regular season will gain entrance to the Chase. That means that a driver who competes in only one race and wins that race can make the postseason. Also, a driver could potentially miss the playoffs if they are fifth in points but without a win.

The Chase field expanded from 12 drivers to 16. With a plethora of drivers capable of winning races the playoff limit needed to increase. Last season 13 drivers won at least once in the first 26 races. Under this new format Brian Vickers, who was 71st in the standings with one win in 12 races, would have made the Chase.

The Chase itself has been broken down into four rounds: Challenger (races No. 27-29), Contender (No. 30-32), Eliminator (No. 33-35), and NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship (race No. 36). Each of the first three segments will eliminate four drivers. The final race of the season at Homestead will decide the champion. And it is simple. The first of the four remaining drivers in the Chase to cross the finish line wins the championship.

A win in one round guarantees a driver a spot in the next.

The changes were made to provide a more exciting brand of racing for fans to see and a simpler standings format.

"We now have a system that makes every race matter more,” NASCAR CEO Brian France said, “it will promote compelling competition for wins all season long, and ultimately it will reward a very worthy champion at the end of each season with a best-of-the-best, winner-take-all showdown.”

One problem with the changes is that there is still a possibility of cars not part of the Chase having an influence in the standings. It would have been ideal to award the highest finishing Chase driver 16 points, on down to the last Chase finisher with one. That keeps the standings even closer and still puts an emphasis on outracing the competition. 

The new format overall looks like it should make drivers and teams worry more about winning and finishing ahead of the competition, especially during the regular season, instead of just points racing (staying out of trouble while finishing near the front).

Decisions on pit road will be more interesting within the closing laps. Under a late-flag caution some underfunded single-car team may forego pitting and put itself at the front and in position to win, thus guaranteeing a Chase spot.

In 2011, 15 drivers won in the first 26 races, the most in the last four seasons.

With a premium on winning, keep an eye on that number as the 2014 season unfolds. 

When questioned by the police, one has a constitutionally protected right to remain silent, but the contents of one's cell phone may speak for themselves.

The Supreme Court agreed to hear oral arguments on two cases last week, both of which center on the authority of police to search phones without a warrant — a practice that dates back to the 1970s.

A Court ruling in 1973 established law enforcement officers’ right to perform searches of any containers found on a person they had arrested. In April, the Court will hear oral arguments for one state case, Riley v. California, and one federal case, U.S. v. Wurie — each involving a different type of mobile phone. U.S. v. Wurie involves an outdated flip phone, but, in Riley v. California, the device in question is a smartphone, which is capable of holding much more personal data. 

Austin Police Cpl. David Boyd said APD officers must at least have grounds for searching a person’s cell phone, but what constitutes fair grounds is determined by the circumstances of the arrest. 

“Officers won’t search cell phones each and every time they make an arrest,” Boyd said. “It depends on the crime or the situation at the time. They determine whether or not to search on a case-by-case basis.”

The UTPD procedure for cell-phone searches requires officers to have a subpoena — a document requiring certain documents or testimony to be produced in court — before going forward with the inspection.

“We have to have probable cause as a result of a crime,” UTPD spokeswoman Cindy Posey said. “And we would never do a search without a subpoena.”

If a car accident occurs and the driver is suspected of texting while driving, officers would request the driver’s phone records, according to Posey.

“A hypothetical example would be if a pedestrian is hit and killed by a driver on campus,” Posey said. “At that time, we would subpoena phone records to find out whether or not the driver was texting or on a call.”

With the Court set to determine whether police officers can have warrantless access to the potentially large amount of personal data carried on smartphones, mechanical engineering senior Evan Bartilson said he would be outraged if the information on his cell phone were examined without a warrant.

“I can hardly believe this practice is up for debate,” Bartilson said. “I see it as an immediate violation of our Fourth Amendment rights.” 

Bartilson said he thinks smartphones should not be searched without authorization because they hold digital communications, locations and photographs.

“If anything should require a warrant [to search], it should be your cell phone,” Bartilson said. “Under no circumstances should something as incriminating and personal as a cell phone be searched [without a warrant].”

Undeclared sophomore Alex Bureau said she thinks unauthorized cell phone searches are unacceptable unless there is a warrant out for one’s arrest.

“Honestly, if the police have a warrant out for your arrest, I believe they have the right to search your phone,” Bureau said. “But, if you are randomly arrested, like maybe for drunk driving, the police shouldn’t be able to search your phone or car until they have permission for it.”