Monday, March 12, 2012

Sour Grapes 101: An Ohio city official attacks advocates by misapplying a law

Steve Magas is an attorney in Ohio, a co-author of "Bicycling and the Law", and has represented cyclists on the trial and appellate level.

This case, described fully in the link below, is an example of why careful wording of the law, and carefully groomed relationships and proper separation of responsibilities and authorities between Boards and Commissions and professional staff is critical to avoiding trouble. Also a good reason to watch your back.

By: Steve Magas, March 12, 2012

"Jerry Walling and Roger Brislawn do what many, many cyclists around the country do – they sit on the Bicycle Advisory Committee of their community.  They never dreamed that accepting this role, and reviewing bike crashes, would lead them to the brink of “large fines and imprisonment...

...From 2000-2011 the Bikeway Advisory Committee seemed to work well in Beavercreek – or so Jerry & Roger thought.  That changed in August 2011 when Jerry & Roger received a little present in the mail – a certified mail letter from The Ohio State Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and Surveyors....

...The letter cited the men to Ohio Revised Code Section 4733.01 – the code section which defines the “practice of engineering.”  The Board stated that it had received a “complaint” alleging that work the men had done for the Bikeway Advisory Committee “may fall into the realm of traffic engineering and could effect public welfare, safeguarding of life, health or property…"


Steve A said...

The intent of the law was to prohibit false representation, much as claiming to be a doctor is a crime, Anyone can draw a diagram; even Andy. If I were to represent myself as a PE in connection with a traffic feature, I would be as liable as you even though I AM a PE, simply because I am not qualified to practice in that specialty any more than the typical brain surgeon is qualified to practice paychiatry. Now, chill out and NO, no reasonable person would believe that statement was practicing medicine without a license.

OTOH, if you need someone to build the world's most advanced aircraft for food, I'm your guy!

Steve A said...

I do not like iPhones sneaking in to misspell "psychiatry!"

limom said...

This is sad.
Don't them folks have better things to do?

Khal said...

I'm surprised the Ohio board in question would send those letters out to the advisory committee. That is a chilling thing to do to a public citizen. Clearly the law is meant to proscribe false representation. Asserting that a BAC is representing itself as the licensed traffic engineer is ludicrous. But if you or I got a certified letter threatening us with legal action, I suspect we would want a lawyer, too.