5/22/2006Maryland: Federal Judges Dismiss Traffic Tickets
Judges find traffic tickets issued on gated federal roads in Maryland may be invalid.
Thousands of traffic tickets issued on federal roads in Maryland, including military bases and research hospitals, may not be valid. Over the past several weeks, federal judges have been dismissing speeding and other simple traffic tickets issued at gated installations including Andrews Air Force Base, the National Naval Medical Center and the National Institutes of Health. One of Maryland's fifty federal installations, Fort Meade, has 66 miles of roads within its sprawling campus.
Traffic citations that are based on Maryland state law do not apply to gated federal roads because they are not "public highways" according to a decision last January by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth District. The court overturned the traffic conviction of a man driving on an access road at the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Virginia, reasoning 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.'" Like Maryland, Virginia traffic law only applies to public roads. Read the full text of the Appeals case United States v. Smith in 47k PDF format.
In Maryland last year there were 37,910 federal violation notices issued worth $2.2 million in fines. It is not clear how many of these notices were gated road traffic tickets. The appeals court ruling does not apply to the National Park Service's Baltimore-Washington Parkway, one of the largest sources of speeding tickets in the state, because the road does not have gates.