Operating an Unregistered Gas Assist Motorized Bicycle
David asked: The question on everyone’s mind is….Is it a criminal offense to drive a gas bike on public highways without getting arrested. No it’s not legal to drive a gas bike on public highways. The crime would be driving an unregistered moped a civil infraction being it was a bicycle before it was converted into a moped.makes it not a motor vehicle not to mention a 49 c.c. engine. You are NOT allowed to legally drive it but you only should receive a ticket not a court date.
I’m not so sure it is that simple. I believe the scenario you describe may not stand up in court if you operating an unregistered gas assist motorized bicycle and are cited for operating an unregistered motor vehicle.
For the purpose of vehicle registration, a moped is not a motor vehicle.
s. 320.01 – Definitions, General
As used in the Florida Statutes, except as otherwise provided, the term:
(1) “Motor vehicle” means:
(a) An automobile, motorcycle, truck, trailer, semitrailer, truck tractor and semitrailer combination, or any other vehicle operated on the roads of this state, used to transport persons or property, and propelled by power other than muscular power, but the term does not include traction engines, road rollers, special mobile equipment as defined in s. 316.003, vehicles that run only upon a track, bicycles, swamp buggies, or mopeds.
(27) “Moped” means any vehicle with pedals to permit propulsion by human power, having a seat or saddle for the use of the rider and designed to travel on not more than three wheels, with a motor rated not in excess of 2 brake horsepower and not capable of propelling the vehicle at a speed greater than 30 miles per hour on level ground, and with a power-drive system that functions directly or automatically without clutching or shifting gears by the operator after the drive system is engaged. If an internal combustion engine is used, the displacement may not exceed 50 cubic centimeters.
For a vehicle to be a legal moped, it must meet certain equipment standards.
s. 316.46 – Equipment Regulations for Mopeds
No person may operate a moped that does not conform to all applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards relating to lights and safety and other equipment contained in Title 49, Code of Federal Regulations. A violation of this section is a noncriminal traffic infraction, punishable as a nonmoving violation as provided in chapter 318.
Operating a moped without the above equipment is a non-criminal traffic violation.
A moped must be registered and have a license plate.
s. 320.0803 – Moped License Plates
(1) Any other provision of law to the contrary notwithstanding, registration and payment of license taxes in accordance with these requirements and for the purposes stated herein shall in no way be construed as placing any requirements upon mopeds other than the requirements of registration and payment of license (3) The license plate for a moped shall be 4 inches wide by 7 inches long.
So how does a motorized bicycle become a moped? This is formally described in this DMV link.
I believe it would be incumbent upon the operator of a motorized bicycle that meets the definition of moped, but is not registered as such, to prove that the vehicle is in fact a moped, and not a motor vehicle, to successfully defeat a citation for operating an unregistered motor vehicle.
Registration is the proof that the vehicle meets the requirements of DMV Procedure 68 and is actually a moped and therefore not a motor vehicle.
Operating an unregistered motor vehicle can result in criminal penalties.
s. 320.07 – Expiration of Registration; Renewal Required; Penalties
(3) The operation of any motor vehicle without having attached thereto a registration license plate and validation stickers …. for the current registration period shall subject the owner thereof, if he or she is present, or, if the owner is not present, the operator thereof to the following penalty provisions:
(a) Any person whose motor vehicle …. has been expired for a period of 6 months or less commits a noncriminal traffic infraction, punishable as a nonmoving violation as provided in chapter 318. However, a law enforcement officer may not issue a citation for a violation under this paragraph until midnight on the last day of the owner’s birth month of the year the registration expires.
(b) Any person whose motor vehicle …. has been expired for more than 6 months, upon a first offense, is subject to the penalty provided in s. 318.14.
(c) Any person whose motor vehicle …. has been expired for more than 6 months, upon a second or subsequent offense, commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
s. 775.082 – Penalties; Applicability of Sentencing Structures; Mandatory Minimum Sentences for Certain Reoffenders Previously Released from Prison
(4) A person who has been convicted of a designated misdemeanor may be sentenced as follows:
(b) For a misdemeanor of the second degree, by a definite term of imprisonment not exceeding 60 days.s.
s. 775.083 – Fines
(1) A person who has been convicted of an offense other than a capital felony may be sentenced to pay a fine in addition to any punishment described in s. 775.082; when specifically authorized by statute, he or she may be sentenced to pay a fine in lieu of any punishment described in s. 775.082. A person who has been convicted of a noncriminal violation may be sentenced to pay a fine. Fines for designated crimes and for noncriminal violations shall not exceed:
(e) $500, when the conviction is of a misdemeanor of the second degree or a noncriminal violation.