Citation for Motorized Bicycle Again

Question

Answer: I own a geo zetta. An electric scooter that has pedals , is under 750 watts , tops out at 19.8 mph. It has headlights blinkers etc. It looks like a regular moped though. My license is suspended. I was riding my electric bicycle/scooter in the bike lane on the side of the highway like I was instructed by my local police department. I got pulled over a lot. So much even that I met with an officer from the traffic division of the Leesburg pd. He inspected it and agreed that it was an electric bicycle because it had pedals and was not.faster than.twenty on flat ground and under 750watts. And that I may operate it even though my license is suspended. Four months later I am arrested and charge with driving while license suspended with knowledge by the lake county sheriff’s office. The sheriff’s argument was that I may not operate an electric bicycle with a suspended license. However if it was not suspended I could operate it with out a license at all. That no license is required but it’s unlawful to drive.on a suspended license….when I.got to jail and went to first appearance I pleaded that I was riding an electric bicycle which Florida statute said no license was required. The states attorney said my geo zetta was not an electric bicycle but in fact a motor vehicle even though it’s has bicycle pedals. Then the judge said I could not operate an electric bicycle with a suspended license. Then I showed the paper work from the traffic officer from the Leesburg pd that I was told by law enforcement that I am ok to ride this. That they had even put out a memo to not pull me over anymore because it’s an electric bicycle not a motor vehicle which would require a tag license and registration. Rhwy still did not drop my charges The states attorney offers me a one day plea bargain to except the charges and get out of jail that day or wait in jail for my court date almost a month and two weeks. My scooter was impounded and I did sign the pleas bargain and except charges. Are the lake county sheriff’s office right. Am I breaking the law riding a 2013 geo zetta or should I sue the sheriff’s office.

Answer

Your question is beyond the scope of this site and requires legal advice, which we don’t provide.  I recommend that you retain an attorney and use the information in the posts under the heading “motorized bicycles” to demonstrate whether your vehicle is a “bicycle” and not a motor vehicle.

If they are saying that your vehicle does not meet the statutory definition of “bicycle”, you need to have them state why not in writing.

If the judge is saying your vehicle is in fact a “motorized bicycle” that meets the “bicycle” definition, and that you still cannot ride it with a suspended license, you need to get the reason in writing.

Then I recommend filing a motion to dismiss the citation or appeal the decision to insure there is a written document that will require full consideration of the issue.

6 comments on “Citation for Motorized Bicycle Again
  1. Howard says:

    Electric golf carts only go 20mph and people who have lost their licenses can’t drive those either. What’s the difference?

  2. According to the OP, the sheriff and the judge agree that OP’s vehicle is an “electric bicycle”, but believe that riding one with a suspended license is prohibited. Their confusion might arise from the wording of s. 322.34, which provides:

    “(1) Except as provided in subsection (2), any person whose driver license or driving privilege has been canceled, suspended, or revoked, except a “habitual traffic offender” as defined in s. 322.264, who drives a vehicle upon the highways of this state while such license or privilege is canceled, suspended, or revoked is guilty of a moving violation…”

    As the provision refers to “vehicle”, not “motor vehicle”, it appears to prohibit, at first glance, even “driving” a bicycle or an electric-assist bicycle that met the criteria for a “motorized bicycle” with a suspended license. This is not the case, though, because s. 322.01 defines “vehicle” as:

    “(43) “Vehicle” means every device in, upon, or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a public highway or operated upon rails or guideway, except a bicycle, motorized wheelchair, or motorized bicycle.”
    http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0300-0399/0322/Sections/0322.01.html

    Thus, even though the suspended license law prohibits driving a “vehicle” with a suspended license, the chapter’s definition of “Vehicle” excludes a motorized bicycle from the meaning.

  3. Jay says:

    I would sue the crap out of that town, and find out where the guy who pulled me over lived so I could have a talk with him. It amazes me people are still so ignorant on these things. I once road a scooter (Actually owned 4) some were electric with pedals, some without, some gas. I am thankful I was never bullied like this, and if I was I would never have taken a plea. They were in the wrong and I am sure the regulations stipulate that.

    Good luck on your case!

    • Bruce Epperson says:

      I agree with Dwight Kingsbury.

      In a 2003 case, State v. Meister, 849 So. 2d. 1127 (4 DCA 2003) a woman who had a suspended drivers license was cited for driving a gas moped without a license. She appealed on the grounds that she was not driving a motor vehicle. The judge pointed to the section of state statutes dealing, not with the traffic codes, but the administration of drivers licenses, and discovered that 322.264 contained a prohibition against driving any motor vehicle without a license, and it defined a moped as a motor vehicle. He explained:

      “There is no reason why the legislature cannot define motor vehicles one way for licensing requirements and another way for infractions for [the traffic code]”

      Thus, just because something is a motor vehicle for the purposes of Chapter 316 does not mean it cannot be excluded for purposes of insurance, titling, liability, etc. What matters is the applicable definition in Section 322.

      The language of Section 322.001 was changed in 2008. There is no definition of “Bicycle,” but the definition of “motor vehicle” says, in essence, “refer to the definition of bicycle in use in the traffic code, Chapter 316.” That definition, of course, includes certain types of electric bicycles.

      Hence:

      1. The drivers’ license section (Section 322.03(1)) says that one must have a license to operate a motor vehicle on the highway.

      2. Case law says that the only the definitions used in Section 322 control, not those in other section of state statutes.

      3. However, subsection 322.01(27) says that bicycles are excluded from the class of things that are motor vehicles, and defers to Chapter 316 to define “bicycle.”

      4. Chapter 316, as we all know, includes certain types of electrically assisted bicycles within the class of things that are bicycles.

      In conclusion, if the bicycle in question here meets the limitations in Chapter 316, according to State v. Meister and the wording of sections 322.03(1) and 322.01(27), any other wording in state statutes outside Chapter 322 is extraneous. No drivers’ license is required.

      Let me also point out something that I have been urging FBA board members for years: the FBA needs to set up a pro bono lawyers network to represent people in court on cases of this type. I have criticized Geo for giving such advice as “contact your local law enforcement agency and see if they will drop the ticket,” because I believe it endangers the fourth, fifth and sixth amendment rights of defendants. On the other hand, the alternative, “go spend five hundred dollars on a lawyer to defend the case,” has to be admitted is not really much of a viable choice for many people, especially those dependent on bicycles and/or assisted bicycles.

      I don’t know why the FBA has been lawyer-shy. True, only about one in ten cases are really ripe for pro bono treatment, but these electrically-assisted bicycle case look like a promising area.

  4. Paula Phyllis Paxton says:

    I beat my ticket in 2010. In bay co fl my name is paula paxton

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