Saturday, April 22, 2006

City attorneys, read the traffic code

Orem City v. Martineau, 2006 UT App 136

Martineau was caught crossing the “gore,” i.e. the painted area separating the freeway and the freeway off-ramp. Orem City charged first Martineau with improper lane use. Then, just before trial, the City amended the charge to failure to obey a traffic device. The trial judge convicted him in a bench trial of the second offense.

Unfortunately for Orem City, neither of those offenses really fit the facts. While arguably the gore is a traffic control device, there is a more specific statute that governs crossing the gore: 41-6-63.3 (now 41-6a-713). But since Orem never charged Martineau with that statute, the court of appeals reversed his conviction. The court relied on a well known principle of statutory construction that a more specific statute governs over a more general statute.


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