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What is a "state forest road" in your state?


 
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brewmenn
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Joined: 20 Apr 2005
Location: Inkster, Michigan

PostPosted: Tue Oct 11, 2005 3:25 pm    Post subject: What is a "state forest road" in your state? Reply with quote

What is a "state forest road" in your state?

That is, what are the criteria for something in your state forest to be legal to drive down?

Here in Michigan one of our biggest issues with the state is that the state defines a forest road like this:

"a hard surface road, gravel or dirt road or other route capable of travel by a 2-wheel drive, 4-wheel conventional vehicle designed for highway use, except and interstate state or county highway".

If it doesn't fit this description, and isn't otherwise designated as being open to use, it's not legal to drive on. This has lead to as couple of problems for us.

First, it has given rise to what is sometime referred to as the "governors Cadillac" rule, as in, "if the governor can't drive his (her) Cadillac down it you can't drive on it either". So by definition, if we need 4 wheel drive to make it through, it's illegal to be on. But as you can image this is wide open to interpretation by the officer since there is no clearexplanation of what is meant by "capable of travel by a 2-wheel drive, 4-wheel conventional vehicle designed for highway use", and this could change depending on the season, weather conditions, and direction of travel (going up vs. coming down a hill). It also doesn't say if we're talking about a little economy car, a big '70's land yacht, or something else.

Second, it has lead to what I call "road closure by neglect". All the state needs to do to be able to close a road is to let it decay to the point where you can't drive a car down it and then by this definition it is no longer a road and they close it down.

We have had people fight and beat these tickets and it would seem that some judges agree that this law is to vague to be enforceable, but what typically happens when someone gets a ticket they just pay the $150 fine because fighting it would require a court appearance so they would have to take a day off work and in many cases drive several hours north to appear in court.

When I've gone to meeting with state DNR they often ask the question "what are other states doing about this?" and seem to consider that in their decisions, so I'd like to know, what are the other states laws concerning this? Has anyone successfully overturned a rule like this?
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