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7/18/2005
Virginia Courts Lose Income From Military Base Tickets
Court staffing threatened by loss of ticket revenue from military bases after a federal appeals court ruling.

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Federal judges in Virginia are dismissing traffic citations issued on military bases following an appeals court ruling in January that found state traffic law does not apply to base roads. As a result, the number of cases and court revenue from tickets has plunged. Court officials are worried that it will affect their ability to balance their upcoming budget.

"I've noticed we've dismissed several hundred of these cases," U.S. Magistrate Tommy E. Miller said, as quoted by the Virginian-Pilot. "The naval base lands are not considered public highways. I'm going to dismiss [this case]."

On January 27, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth District overturned the traffic conviction of a man driving on an access road at the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Virginia. The court reasoned that, "Because the general public is not permitted on the access road, it is not 'open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular travel.'" Virginia traffic law only applies to public roads.

Read the full text of the Appeals case United States v. Smith in 47k PDF format.

Article Excerpt:
The judiciary has been losing thousands of dollars a month in revenue from the fines imposed on guilty drivers, and court officials say that could affect staffing levels during the next budget cycle. More serious offenses such as drunken driving have not been affected by the ruling. Those fall under a different category of law that applies to both public and private lands.
Source: Norfolk judiciary losing thousands in traffic fines (Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, VA), 7/18/2005)



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