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Drunken Driving Includes Back Yard, Appeals Court Rules With AM-CDC-Drunken Pedestrians, Bjt

April 14, 1994

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) _ A drunken Craig D. Rettig wasn’t worried about breaking the law when he took his all-terrain vehicle on a little spin in his big back yard.

He should have been, according to the Maryland Court of Appeals.

Rettig was arrested Jan. 31, 1992, by a police officer responding to a call from Rettig’s wife after the three-wheel vehicle tipped over and he hurt his arm.

Rettig admitted he was drunk but argued he hadn’t violated any laws because he never left his yard, enclosed by woods and fences.

Citing a section of law that says drunken-driving provisions ″apply throughout this state, whether on or off a highway,″ the Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday it’s a violation to drive anywhere while intoxicated.

The law is reasonable, the appeals court said, because ″the menace posed by an impaired driver on purely private property is sometimes no different from that posed by one who ventures onto property open to the public generally.″

Walter B. Anderson, Rettig’s public defender, argued that traffic laws should be ″restricted to the highways and byways of our state, not every square inch. This even includes your living room.″

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