65 years ago, the old Muroc Army Airfield officially became Edwards Air Force Base.
During the Cold War, Edwards AFB, with its flat High Desert floors, proximity to West Coast aviation manufacturers, and on-site missile firing range, was home to a number of cutting-edge aircraft. Beginning in the 1940s, test pilots routinely broke speed and altitude records in experimental aircraft. In 1963, Major Pete Knight attained Mach 6.72 (4,520 mph) in a rocket-powered North American X-15A-2. That speed record still stands to this day.
In the new millennium, Edwards AFB is still one of the nation's top proving grounds for experimental aircraft.
Needless to say, it's patently illegal to drive on Interstate 95 at anything approaching Mach 6.72. And, whether you're stationed at the base, taking care of official business or just stopping to see the sites, a traffic ticket on federal property is substantially different from one you may receive in Mojave.
Even tiny one-light towns typically have a courthouse, but if you get a federal traffic citation, you also get a one-way ticket to Bakersfield. Unfortunately, it's not an all-expenses-paid pass. Without a lawyer, you could spend the entire day there, not to mention the preceding night, unless you want to get up at 4:00 a.m. to make it to Bakersfield by 8.
Other court staffs are usually somewhat flexible regarding appearance dates, but the good folks at the federal courthouse have a schedule to stick to, and they are most unwilling to change a date. Finally, once the case is finally over, you may have a hard time enrolling in traffic school.
An attorney that regularly practices in federal traffic court knows the rules and procedures, including the unwritten ones, and can usually appear for you and take care of your ticket much more efficiently.
Mark Bigger is committed to giving individuals a voice when dealing with speeding and traffic tickets.