Civil Liberties

Motorin' Blues

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Two tales of woe today from the terrific website TheNewspaper.com, 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.