Marines

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A collection of off-base traffic violation tickets for the weekend of July 16-18 received by service members of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune are gathered to be brought back to the base Traffic Court office, July 21. Even though Marines may try to hide an off-base offense, Traffic Court personnel make rounds to the police stations and courthouses in the Onslow County area every two days.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Jonathan G. Wright

Traffic Court cracking down on off-base violations

21 Jul 2010 | Lance Cpl. Jonathan G. Wright

Behind the counter of the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune Traffic Court hangs a white board with various traffic violations. One of the lines reads “110 in 45 – Piney Green gate.” Marines are not immune to receiving traffic violations out in town, and when this happens, Marines do not always know what to do.

The statistic meant a Marine was pulled over for speeding driving 65 miles over the speed limit when exiting the base gate on Piney Green Road. This may be an extreme case, but many people who work aboard the base face charges when ticketed by the Provost Marshal’s Office, yet what happens during a normal day at Traffic Case?

“We average about 50 people per day in processing traffic violation tickets,” said Staff Sgt. Carlos Robayo, court official for the Camp Lejeune Traffic Court. “Of those, we get six [driving under the influence/driving while intoxicated] cases a day and seven who drive on suspended licenses, among others.”

When someone is pulled over on base, the process is pretty cut and dry; PMO writes the ticket, the Marine’s command is informed and they appear in Traffic Court with a staff noncommissioned officer to process their violation.

“Some Marines either don’t know they have to report off-base violations to their command or they think they can get away with it,” Robayo said.

This is why the Traffic Court has a long-standing relationship with off-base authorities to ensure every Marine law violation is processed properly. Every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, a traffic court Marine goes to the various police departments and courthouses within Onslow County to pick up copies of ticket violations involving base service members who work on base.

According to base records, there were nine DUIs, four warrants for arrest and 14 minor traffic violations from July 16 to 18. Robayo said that among other violations, Camp Lejeune averages two to three DUIs a day.

For minor traffic violations, service members and civilians may find it slightly easier to avoid having a formal entry in their driving record. Through the Jacksonville District Attorney, a Defensive Driving Course is offered in response for exceeding a posted speed limit by no more than 20 miles an hour, following too close behind a car or failing to move for an emergency vehicle. Instead of fighting a ticket, someone may choose another option and pay an additional $50 on top of the $150 court fine.

“This is the DA giving Marines a break and send them to class to educate them as opposed to just fining them,” said a representative of the DA’s office. He continued to say how after they complete the one-time, four-hour class at Coastal Carolina Community College, the DA returns to court for them, and they are done with their violation.

Those who fail to mention their off-base violations do not get off so easily. Their tickets eventually make their way back to the base traffic court to be entered into the Traffic Court’s system. If the Marine fails to inform their command after 72 hours of entering the ticket information into the Traffic Court, their offense is put in the local newspapers’ blotters with their name and unit information.

“Yes, the traffic office is cracking down on off-base violations, but we’re also helping teach them to report any tickets they get,” said Robayo. “We’re not here to (pressure) anyone, we’re just making sure they all get treated equally and know what to do.”

For any information on traffic violations per the traffic court office, reference Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune Base Order 5560.2M or call the traffic court at 451-1951.