Penalties for Driving without License
Matthew asked: Do people get pulled over for riding an ebike with a throttle (no pedal) option without a license (and/or arrested, fined, etc.)?
The definition “bicycle propelled by a combination of human power and an electric helper motor” would seem to exclude ebikes with a throttle, and require a driver’s license. When you engage the throttle and stop pedaling it is no longer acting as a “helper” motor. However, the motor is intended to be a helper motor, most ebikes look like bicycles, and most max out at 20 mph, not 30. I think they could prosecute you if they wanted, but that doesn’t seem to be the intent of the law. The middle ground doesn’t seem to be directly addressed by the law.
If there is no human power option, ie. pedals, it would not meet the definition of electric assist motor powered bicycle and the operator could be cited for operating an unregistered motor vehicle and having no driver’s license.
Penalties for motor vehicle violations are beyond the scope of this site. However, this is a quote from Hussein and Webber:
Penalties for No Valid Driver’s License
In Florida, ‘No Valid Driver’s License’ is classified as a second degree misdemeanor, with penalties of up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.
Although the majority of cases will not result in a jail sentence, the principal consequence of a No Valid License conviction is that it will create a permanent criminal record.
You can read the full article here:
Your question leads me to believe you are describing what the Florida Statutes call a “motorized bicycle”. As we know, a person who is operating a vehicle which meets the statutory definition of “bicycle” does not need a driver’s license. So, let’s look closely at the relevant parts of the definition of “bicycle” to see if it might help answer your question.
“BICYCLE.—Every vehicle propelled solely by human power, and every motorized bicycle propelled by a combination of human power and an electric helper motor capable of propelling the vehicle at a speed of not more than 20 miles per hour on level ground upon which any person may ride. . .” (§ 316.003(3), Fla. Stat. (2016))
The motorized bicycle which is defined here must have some type of mechanism (usually pedals) by which the operator is able to propel the bicycle, and it must have an electric motor which is capable of propelling the bicycle at a speed not greater than 20 mph on level ground. From these two requirements it becomes clear that a vehicle which meets the statutory definition of motorized bicycle may be operated in any one of three modes:
a) Propelled solely by human power with no speed restriction
b) Propelled solely by its motor at speeds not to exceed 20 mph (sometimes referred to as throttle mode)
c) Propelled simultaneously by human power and its motor with no speed restriction (sometimes referred to as pedal-assist)
Please note that nowhere in the definition (nor anywhere else in the statutes that I can find) is there any requirement that the operator must pedal if the motor is providing power.
“E-bikes” which apparently meet the statutory definition of motorized bicycle which do not require any pedaling (throttle mode) are readily available in Florida. In fact, one dealer who sells them has labeled them “DUI Scooters” because people who have lost their driver’s licenses due to DUI convictions can apparently legally operate them.
And other “e-bikes” which can exceed 20 mph when the operator and motor are simultaneously providing power (pedal-assist) are also becoming easier to purchase in Florida because large international companies have apparently become convinced they can defend their dealers who are selling such bicycles. The operators of these motorized bicycles apparently do not need a driver’s license either.
Thank you, I think that answers my question. It could have been more simply worded: “Can I ride an electric bicycle with a throttle without a license?” Or, “Does having a throttle make an electric bicycle a moped or scooter?” Mopeds have pedals, but apparently you can’t ride one in FL without a license. I didn’t want to be scooting along on my electric bicycle using the throttle and get pulled over.
What kind of electric bicycle do you have? Do you have a link to it or a specific make and model you can tell us…
The “pedal assist option” is OK.. IF once you achieve 20mph, the motor stop functioning and at that point you’re pedaling only..
Upon what do you base your requirement that the motor must stop providing power once a motorized bicycle reaches 20 mph while in pedal assist mode? I read and hear this claim often, but have been unable to find any legal basis for such a limitation.
Many electric bicycles are sold in Florida which do not comply with your restriction. For example, the motor in the EG Milan 500 EX continues to provide power at speeds greater than 20 mph, all the way up to 30 mph in pedal assist mode. It can also be operated in throttle mode (no pedaling required) up to 20 mph, so it would be an example of the type of motorized bicycle to which the OP referred. A little research will uncover many electric bicycles which do not comply with your restriction.