Appeals Court (June 1, 2010)
A pier may qualify as a "public way" even where its entrance is blocked by a closed swinging gate and signage limits access to authorized vehicles.
The defendant was arrested for operating under the influence of alcohol after driving onto a pier in Charlestown. Upon conviction, he appealed and argued that the pier was not a " public way" because there was a closed swinging gate leading to the pier and signage limiting access only to authorized vehicles. Therefore, he contended, public vehicular traffic was prohibited or restricted.
The Appeals Court acknowledged that this case was a " close call" because "the presence of a gate and signage are strong indicators that restrictions on public vehicular access were in place." However, the Court pointed to evidence introduced by the Commonwealth at trial, including the fact of an MBTA ferry stop at the pier, photographs indicating public accessibility (a paved passageway and street lamps), a deed containing a covenant for the property "to provide access and egress to the general public by foot or vehicle", and testimony showing a sailing center on the pier and that the pier was filled with people almost every evening.