Civil Liberties

Motorin' Blues


Two tales of woe today from the terrific website, which tracks travel-roadway issues from a libertarian perspective. First:

Cars in Baltimore, Maryland can be towed even when legally parked. According to the city, a vehicle that is not moved at least once every 48 hours is considered "abandoned" and is subject to towing. This happened to resident Milton Boyd who had legally parked his Volvo sedan outside his home before a July vacation. When he returned, his car was gone. Boyd thought it had been stolen, but it turned out that police impounded the car and demanded $352 in fines and fees for its return. The vehicle, though considered abandoned, was in perfect condition, legally parked with a valid registration and license plate. Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley responded to an email about the situation by suggesting that those going on a vacation should find, "a neighbor or friend you can entrust the vehicle to."

Marylanders, take note. O'Malley will probably be your next governor. The second story comes from the U.K.

Nick Freeman, 49, the UK lawyer known as "Mr Loophole" was arrested Monday morning in connection with his work defending celebrity clients such as David Beckham against various motoring charges. Freeman also had set up a website to help non-celebrity drivers faced with speed camera tickets and the threat of a driving ban. His expertise at uncovering mistakes by the police and prosecution has earned Freeman the enmity of powerful officials. According to the BBC, Britain's top police chief, Meredydd Hughes, admits to "becoming increasingly frustrated with lawyers who used legal small print to help win acquittals for clients." Police also took the opportunity to raid Freeman's office in Manchester after charging him on suspicion of "a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice."

The freedom of movement is in peril in the U.K., where surveillance cameras abound, and every trip taken by every motorist will soon be monitored with GPS, recorded, and filed away.

NEXT: Should We All Be Like Mike?

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  1. even when legally parked

    Apparently leaving your car for more than 48 hours means the car IS, in fact, not legally parked.

    Then again, this doesn’t seem odd to me because in Californicate there is a 72 hour window for parking any vehicle on any road where parking is permitted, with various other restrictions related to street sweeping days, overnight parking, etc. It’s 4 hours on a freeway and only permitted in an emergency. After 4 hours, your car is towed. And it’s expensive to get it out of the impound yard.

  2. Welcome, Radley. As an Egg McMuffin fan, I loved what you did with Supersize Me.

  3. Cars in Baltimore, Maryland can be towed even when legally parked.

    …yet are rarely towed, strangely, when they’re left in the middle of the street.

  4. Good reason #4,386 not to live in Baltimore.

    What the hell is going on in the UK??? As much as we Americans like to rag on the French, they seem like an oasis of enlightened liberty compared to the Brits–the very people who basically created the modern concept of liberty.

  5. Chris O,

    You are right about the Brits. Did you see the story the other day about the school girl being arrested after she asked to do a group science project with other English speakers and not the Urdu speakers to whom she was assigned? The Urdu speakers didn’t speak English and she didn’t speak Urdu. She was promptly called a racist by her teacher and arrested at school the following day and taken to juvenile detention.

    The Brits seem to have truly gone insane with multicultural nanny state fever. What is worse is that unlike say the French or Italians whose governments are generally too incompetent to do anything right, the British government is generally a model of efficiency, which is a very bad thing when its job is to strictly enforce insane and oppressive laws.

  6. Back in the 1990s when Britain banned firearms there were predictions that the subjects of the crown would then lose their other rights. Of course that was simply a “slippery-slope” argument, and not to be taken seriously.

    I recently ran across a book review of A Land Fit for Criminals by David Fraser. He writes of the broken British justice system from the perspective of 25 years as a parole officer.

    He shows that liberal intellectuals and their bureaucratic allies have left no stone unturned to ensure that the law-abiding should be left as defenseless as possible against the predations of criminals, from the emasculation of the police to the devising of punishments that do not punish and the propagation of sophistry by experts to mislead and confuse the public about what is happening in society, confusion rendering the public helpless in the face of the experimentation perpetrated upon it.

  7. from my time in Philly.

    ticket for an expired meter – $20
    ticket for parking on the sidewalk – $15
    overstaying a 2-hour parking limit – towing
    average lot rate downtown (which are often full) – $15

    and for the record, I parked on the sidewalk A LOT!!

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