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SC- Driving a personally owned vehicle on a military base is a privilege

November 24, 2009

Driving a personally owned vehicle on a military base is a privilege

Responding to the letter to the editor written by a parent of a student at one of the schools on Shaw, who objects to Shaw Air Force Base’s motorcycle safety requirements:

Our answer probably won’t please the writer, who felt that the Air Force should drop all safety gear requirements for civilian motorcycle riders accessing a school on base.

We at Shaw feel the public deserves to know the Air Force side of the story.

The gates on Shaw serve as a restricted entry point to land owned by the United States Air Force. We understand that High Hills Elementary and Shaw Heights Elementary are public schools. Access to the schools has been a demanding issue for a long time. But they are on Shaw land.

This land (streets included) is a mixture of federal exclusive jurisdiction and proprietary jurisdiction. Regardless of jurisdiction, it is well established that a Department of Defense installation commander may enact or enforce rules and regulations necessary for the safety and welfare of his or her installation.

The commander’s discretion to maintain a military installation and to manage military personnel is essential. This inherent authority to establish reasonable rules for safety and welfare is separate and apart from the concept of jurisdiction to prosecute cases.

In other words, while military or federal government officials may not prosecute criminal acts that occur on areas falling under its proprietary jurisdiction, they may enforce rules that ensure safety, welfare and good order. Specifically with regard to traffic regulations, the DOD Joint Traffic Regulation provides that driving a personally owned vehicle on a military installation is a privilege granted by the installation commander. All operators must comply with the installation’s regulations governing motor vehicle operations.

The bottom line: On areas of an installation that fall under its proprietary jurisdiction, the military may enforce its regulations through administrative sanctions, including the suspension of a civilian’s installation driving privileges.

The motor vehicle rules and procedures in place at Shaw are well within the 20th Fighter Wing commander’s authority to ensure the safety and welfare of those on the military installation, by placing reasonable rules and restrictions on those who enter it.

We’re sorry this rider feels the motorcycle safety requirements are an inconvenience for him, but they’re not going to change.

ROB SEXTON
Community Relations Manager
Shaw Air Force Base

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