Local News

Judge halts beach driving on Cape Hatteras National Seashore

Posted July 18, 2007 11:24 a.m. EDT
Updated May 1, 2008 12:59 a.m. EDT

— A federal judge has put an immediate stop to all beach driving on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

In an order filed Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle said the National Park Service, the Department of Interior and towns along the Cape Hatteras National Seashore need to create an off-road vehicle plan for the beaches.

Until that happens, off-road vehicle driving is banned from the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse north to Oregon Inlet and south to Ocracoke.

Cape Hatteras park officials, however, are not enforcing the order while they try to get an interpretation of Boyle's ruling.

Some areas on the beach are closed because of wildlife sanctuaries, which have nothing to do with the order, Seashore Superintendent Mike Murray said. And there are enforceable regulations prohibiting motorists from driving on sand dunes, speeding and driving drunk.

Boyle's order was based on a criminal case that began over the Memorial Day weekend. In that case, Vasile Matei was accused of operating a vehicle without due care.

During Matei's trial, Boyle questioned the lack of off-road vehicle rules that the Park Service can enforce. In Wednesday’s order, Boyle said the lack of rules endangers both beach-goers and endangered species that live on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

According to the National Park Service, piping plover chicks forage and rest in the area.