I was down in Cape May NJ over the winter and happened to be driving around looking as some new houses that were under construction on the North end of the island. I started to drive down an unmarked and unpaved driveway between two houses. After driving about 300 feet, I realized that the driveway was in fact a beach access route. I began to turn around and got stuck in the sand. After several minutes of trying to get free, a Cape May police officer arrived. He called a towing company and issued me a citation for “driving on the beach”. I am scheduled for a hearing on May 1. In doing a little bit of research, it seems that “driving on the beach” is a municipal offense, and not a state regulation. I have found the Cape May municipal ordinance online, but there is little detailed information supporting the regulation. My question is, where can I find out what the requirements are for posting the regulation, or for posting that the driveway was in fact a beach access, and no vehicles were permitted. There were no signs indicating that access was limited or that it was a beach access route. Is there some sort of an overriding state regulation that guides the posting of municipal regulations and ordinances? Thanks for your help.
1 Answer from Attorneys
You need to go to a county Law Library, which would be located at the County Courthouse, and consult the law librarian for some guidance. Unfortunately, I have never represented anyone on this kind of a summons but the standard of proof is probably still "beyond a reasonable doubt" and the prosecutor must meet that burden before the State can convict you of the offense. tell someone who works in the county law library what you have posted here. They will be able to direct you to the appropriate scources to see if there is any case law on the issue. I cannot really give you a tutorial on line about how to do legal research but you probably need look up the law of town ordinances to see if you can find a case assessing the validity or constitutionality of the ordinance. Hopefully your county County Courthouse has a law Library. I hope this gives you some direction even though it does not necessarily answer your direct question, good luck.