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News Link • Justice and Judges

Court Rules Against Test for Washington Tour Guides


That's the take of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which ruled Friday that a Segway tour operator's guides shouldn't be required to pass a multiple-choice test and pay $200 in licensing fees to offer guided tours of the city's monuments, museums and other points of interest.

The test requires applicants to answer a total 100 questions in fourteen categories: architecture; dates; government; historical events; landmark buildings; locations; monuments and memorials; museums and art galleries; parks, gardens, zoos, and aquariums; presidents; sculptures and statues; universities; pictures; and regulations. To pass, applicants must score a 70. (See seven sample questions.)

Paid tour guides who fail to meet these requirements could face both a $300 fine and up to 90 days in jail.

Business owners Tonia Edwards and Bill Main, who operate Segs in the City, a company that offers guided Segway tours of the city, objected to the test requirement and filed suit.

A U.S. district court initially upheld the licensing law on the grounds that the city held a compelling interest in regulating its tourism industry.

But a panel of three circuit court judges reversed that decision, finding that the exam and licensing fees violated the business owners' right to free speech and conduct.

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