Can a park ranger write a citation without making the ‘perpetrator’ aware?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can a park ranger write a citation without making the ‘perpetrator’ aware?

I have been camping at this cite in Colorado near Taryall many times before. My friends and I typically drive onto the site and park our cars before beginning to pitch our tents. As we were here again during the summer we did as we typically do, and were confronted by a park ranger. When walking onto our campsite the ranger made us aware that there are minuscule signs we may not park past and we needed to move our vehicles. As this had never happened before, we were polite and apologized, grabbing our things to move our vehicles to the correct spot. The ranger had asked for a license and when confronted about the reason for needing a license she claimed it was just to provide her with the knowledge of who we were and our age, etc. We patiently waited for her to bring back the ID and give us a warning. When she returned with my friend’s ID she said she only needed one and didn’t care who’s it was she also handed him a large citation. The friend who suffered this citation does not own a vehicle, let alone the 2 we had parked wrong. I was unaware that a person of legal authority was able to withhold such pertinent information from a cooperative person, relinquishing their own ID.

Asked on August 22, 2018 under General Practice, Colorado


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

If you violate the law or an ordinance, you may be cited for it. The officer citing (whether a police officer, sheriff, park ranger, etc.) has no legal obligation to inform the person that they will be or intend to cite; they can simply issue the citation. They can take ID for verification of identity then decide to issue a citation--they do not need to warn you in advance that they may do this. What you describe is legal.

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