Q: Does PG County Police need to have authorization on file to enforce moving violation while posted on private property?
A: The Prince George's County police can pull you over for a moving violation even if it takes place on private property. It would have to be within their jurisdiction. For example, the Prince George's County Police cannot pull you over in Montgomery County.
A: Once upon a time, the traffic code only applied on public highways and streets maintained by the state or local governments. I won a lot of traffic cases for clients defending under this restriction, including a lot of probable cause stops for DUI based on not moving violations within apartment complex lots and streets. Then, some years ago, the legislature changed the law. The traffic code now reads as follows: "A person may not drive a motor vehicle in violation of any provision of this title on any private property that is used by the public in general." That means, any private roads, driveways and parking lots of apartment complexes, shopping centers, office buildings, etc., where members of the public may be allowed to drive for purposes of accessing that property. It would not apply to a driveway or lane wholly on a private lot that was not generally used by the public in general where access was either restricted or the property was not open to visitors for business or residential purposes (like shopping, or visiting tenants located in the apartments). Notwithstanding that a private property is not open to the general public, some violations may in fact be charged even on wholly private land: DUI is one example, which can be charged anywhere in the state, so long as the reason for the stop is not based solely on a moving violation on the private land. In contrast, driving on a suspended or revoked license cannot be charged as a violation on wholly private property not open to, or used by, the general public. Private gated communities with restricted access would not be open to the public in general, but I am unaware of any Maryland court opinions addressing such communities under the traffic code, as the issue has not come up in any of my cases. So far.
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