St. John Administrator Leona Smith has recently been contacted by residents questioning V.I. National Park Rangers’ jurisdiction on North Shore Road.
After consulting with Virgin Islands Attorney General Vincent Frazer, Smith confirmed last week that VINP Rangers do have full authority to issue citations for infractions and uphold all traffic laws on North Shore Road.
“Park Rangers have concurrent jurisdiction with V.I. Police Department on the federal lands on St. John,” Frazer wrote to Smith. “This jurisdiction gives the Rangers the authority to enforce traffic laws and issue citations under the Code of Federal Regulations. The cases are heard by a magistrate in district court.”
“The magistrate issues a collateral schedule of fines which is updated on a periodic basis (the CFR does not provide a specific fine for a violation and leaves it to the discretion of the court),” wrote the attorney general. “A defendant cited faces up to six months in prison for a violation of a traffic law on federal lands under 36 CFR 1.3. Usually, the court only imposes a fine. However, in cases where the court considers imposing jail time, the magistrate will appoint a Federal Defender to the case.”
Note the following general traffic regulations covered under 36 CFR:
4.1 Applicability and scope
4.13 Obstructing traffic.
4.14 Open container of alcoholic beverage.
4.15 Safety belts.
4.20 Right of way.
4.21 Speed limits.
4.22 Unsafe operation.
4.23 Operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
“Recently the Park Service appointed a new chief who is more vigilant about enforcing traffic laws,” Frazer wrote to the St. John administrator. “It appears that the rangers have always had the authority to issue citations, but apparently refrained from doing so in the past.”