NOVEMBER 25, 1997. Maryland District Court Judge E. G. Boyer today ruled "Not Guilty" in Anne Arundel County ABATE's challenge to the helmet law.

In July, an AA County ABATE member solicited a helmet ticket for the purpose of applying additional pressure on a flawed law and was stopped by an Anne Arundel County Police officer. The citation was for a violation of Section 21-1306b, Operating a motorcycle without required headgear protection In presenting the case to the Court, Bruce Bereano, attorney for AA County ABATE, argued that while the law may require a person to wear an approved helmet, there had to be a list of approved helmets for a person to chose from. "No list, No Law" No law, no violation of law.

This decision may set the judicial tone for subsequent helmet decisions in Anne Arundel County.

AA County ABATE is also challenging the helmet law in Queen Annes County, MD. On December 9th, two members were stopped in that county for the same violation and Mr. Bereano will present oral arguments.

The Saint Mary's Court Case, involving Mike Lewis, will be heard also on December 9th by the Maryland Court of Appeals. This decision could gut the Maryland helmet law and cause a major re-shuffling of the legislative agenda as legislators scramble to re-establish control over the helmet issue. In a related issue, the Maryland Capital has broadsided the court challenges to the helmet law portraying the tactic as a desperate attempt to circumvent the legislature. In encouraging the legislature to maintain helmet laws, the Capital relied on the social burden theory that people needed to be protected from themselves and that the restriction of liberty in the defense of the budget was acceptable.

In a letter thanking the Judge for his decision, AA County ABATE said:

"Many people, the media, the legislature, and the public, mistake the fight against the helmet as an end issue affecting only motorcyclists rather than a fight for a more fundamental, underlying value: the public's right to choose.

"Safety legislation seems to be shifting more toward protecting the individual from himself, and criminalizing any decision that might result in an injury that might possibly use state medical dollars. The law's traditional focus of protecting Person A from Person B is shifting to protecting Person A from himself because an accidental self injury might result in unrecouped government medical payments. Lawful, peaceful pursuits are being criminalized to protect the state treasury and the medical dollar...and that is a basic shift in our legal and legislative philosophy."

"The citation was intended to induce a court review of a law peculiar to motorcycling. Your observations that the law is flawed and needing of legislative review should motivate the legislature to re-address the issue. In that forum, then, we can press the legislature for a return to a traditional trust in an educated public's judgment."

"Thank you."



Sequel to this page: The December 9th court appearance...

Reply from P. Davis, ABATE Louisiana


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