eBike Driver’s License

Question

Scot asked: I’m confused regarding the 25″ seat height for an electric bike in 316.003. Also, throttle and pedal assist. The Pedego Interceptor electric bicycle specifically . I have a suspended driver license and want to know if this ebike meets the “bicycle ” definition? Would one need to stay in pedal assist mode all the time while driving this bike? pedegoelecticbikes.com Thanks, please explain. The seat height is obviously above 25″.

Answer

You asked the same question in a comment on another post. The answer is on that post:

http://flbikelaw.org/2014/09/definition-of-bicycle/#comments

Posted in Ask Geo, Definitions, Motorized Bicycles
2 comments on “eBike Driver’s License
  1. Bruce Epperson says:

    Let me try to sort this out.

    Many of these same type of questions have come up. They are generally along the lines of “is blah blah a bicycle?” The implied question is: “is blah blah exempt from the requirements of: 1. some type of traffic law, 2. motor tag requirements, or 3. driver’s license requirements.

    Except for Number 1, all are irrelevant. What does or does not define a bicycle is the function of separate Chapters of the Florida statutes, and as the court put it in State v. Meister, 849 So. 2d 1127 (Fla. 4 DCA 2003) “the fact that there are different definitions in other chapters does not make the definition of motor vehicle unclear in Chapter 322 [the driver’s license code]. There is no reason why the Legislature cannot define motor vehicles one way for licensing requirements, or another way for infractions or financial responsibility.”

    There are three relevant sections: 316 (traffic infractions); 320 (motor vehicle [tag] licenses); and 322 (driver’s licenses).

    Chapter 316.

    This is regularly covered here, so I will not repeat what Geo has already discussed. I will note State v. Howard, 510 So. 2d 612 (Fla. 3 DCA 1987), in which a state district court determined that a pedal cyclist, as a vehicle operator, was fully subject to section 316.193, the DUI statute. This not only means that one is subject to a DUI citation for drunk cycling, but if one has a prior citation, it could be a multiple conviction, which could be a felony, and an accident resulting in injury or death while cycling while drunk would be subject to the heightened penalties of the DUI statute.

    Chapter 320, the Motor Vehicles Licenses Law

    In 2002, the Florida Legislature removed motor scooters from the definition of “motor vehicle” in Chapter 316, but failed to do so in Chapters 320 and 322. In Fla. Op. Att. Gen 2003-44, the Florida Attorney General determined that a “motorized scooter” was any motorized device that was not a HPV, motorized wheelchair, bicycle (as broadly defined) or personal electric mobility assistance device, the latter as defined in 316.003(83).

    Thus, Chapter 320 includes motorized scooters, but because there is no provision made in Florida statutes for licensing such devices, they may not be operated on the public ways of the state of Florida. See also Fla. Op. Att. Gen. 2002-47. Motorized scooters are prohibited from the use of sidewalks. There appears to be no distinction between motorized scooters powered by gasoline and electric motors in these two opinions.

    Chapter 322. Licensing of Motor Vehicle Operators

    The definitive case here is Inman v. State, 916 So.2d 59 (Fla. 2 DCA 2005). The Appellant, Inman, was operating a SunL E-21 Electric Scooter on the public streets after having his operator’s license suspended. He was cited for operating a motor vehicle without a license. He argued that under the definition of motor vehicle in Chapter 316, his scooter was not a motor vehicle, because it was a motorized bicycle. The court stated that the relevant definition was that stated in section 322.34(2)(c), not in Chapter 316. Section 322.34(2)(c) defines motor vehicle as “any self propelled vehicle, excluding [towed trailers, HPVs, wheelchairs] and motorized bicycles as defined in sec. 316.003.” Thus, the only part of Chapter 316 used was that cross-referenced in 316.003(26). The court concluded that the SunL E-21 did not apply, because it had no pedals and the motor was not limited to being a helper motor. Hence, the SunL E-21 was a motor vehicle and Inman was operating a motor vehicle without the required operator’s license. This also applies to mopeds and many types of motorized bicycles: State v. Riley, 698 So.2d 374 (Fla. 2 DCA 1997) (Go-Ped is motor vehicle) State v. Meister, 849 so.2d 1127 (Fla. 4 DCA 2003) (Mopeds [and?] motorized bicycles are motor vehicles).

    Summary: with the exception of pure human powered bicycles, the condition of the law in Florida is such at this time that it cannot be said with certainty that the use of any kind of motorized “quasi-bicycle” on the streets AND sidewalks of this state does not violate at least one of the provisions of the Florida Traffic Code, the Florida Motor Vehicles Licenses Law, or the Florida Vehicle Operator’s Licensing Law

    Bruce Epperson
    Florida Bar No. 758531

  2. Geo says:

    Bruce,

    You stated:

    Summary: with the exception of pure human powered bicycles, the condition of the law in Florida is such at this time that it cannot be said with certainty that the use of any kind of motorized “quasi-bicycle” on the streets AND sidewalks of this state does not violate at least one of the provisions of the Florida Traffic Code

    And

    “This also applies to mopeds and many types of motorized bicycles: State v. Riley, 698 So.2d 374 (Fla. 2 DCA 1997) (Go-Ped is motor vehicle) State v. Meister, 849 so.2d 1127 (Fla. 4 DCA 2003) (Mopeds [and?] motorized bicycles are motor vehicles).”

    It seems to me that in Soto, the court is very specific about 316.003 motorized bicycles not being motor vehicles.

    “ …. this court, in affirming Soto’s conviction, held that driving a moped requires a license because a moped is not excluded from the definition of a motor vehicle in section 322.01(26)

    “Motor vehicle” means any self-propelled vehicle, including a motor vehicle combination, not operated upon rails or guideway, excluding vehicles moved solely by human power, motorized wheelchairs, and motorized bicycles as defined in s. 316.003.

    No question about sidewalks since that is covered by 316.1995. (Other than human power)

    Also no question about mopeds and other motor powered vehicles that don’t meet the 316.003 motorized bicycle definition.

    But 316.003 motorized bicycles on the roadway are specifically excluded from the 322 definition of motor vehicle? Hence, no DL required. Am I missing something?

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