Unregistered Vehicle Citation
Tom asked: I got a ticket in South Dayton Beach, Florida for unregistered motor vehicle and for riding in the bike lane. I would like to know why I got the tickets and how do I not get them again. I still want to ride my motorized bike. Can you help me?
We can help you understand the situation, but can’t advise you to continue to ride your gas-motor bike.
Bicycles with electric assist motors are legal if the meet the statutory definition of “bicycle”. Bicycles with gas assist motors are not legal vehicles unless they meet all the requirements and are registered as a moped or motorcycle, hence the unregistered vehicle citation. See this post:
Bicycle lanes are for the preferential or exclusive use of bicycles. Apparently you were cited since your vehicle is not a bicycle. See the posts under “Bike Lanes”.
As Florida Statutes include no definition of “Bicycle lane” and say nothing about what use of a bicycle lane by a (moving) driver might be prohibited, whether “riding [or driving] in a bike lane” is illegal for a non-bicyclist has remained a matter of debate. The only operator uses that are specifically prohibited are standing or parking in a bike lane (s. 316.1945(1)(b)), and this prohibition applies to any “person”, i.e., even to a bicyclist.
The only violations mentioning a bike lane listed in the 29-page “Quick Reference Guide to Traffic Violations” (Appendix C in Florida DHSMV’s Uniform Traffic Citation Procedures Manual, http://www.flhsmv.gov/ddl/utc/ ) are the ones for standing or parking in a bike lane.
It’s true that other documents, like the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (adopted by the Florida Department of Transportation), define “Bicycle lane” as being “designated for preferential or exclusive use of bicyclists by markings and, if used, signs”.
As motorists drive across or part way into bike lanes every day to enter and leave roadways at driveways, as well as to make right turns at intersections, the “exclusive” interpretation seems untenable. On roads with 40-50 mph speeds, operators of lower-powered motor scooters sometimes ride in bike lanes in Florida, where available; as long as a motor scooter operator yielded to any cyclist in the bike lane (e.g., using an adjacent travel lane to pass cyclists), how would this be legally inconsistent with bicyclists’ “preferential” use of the bike lane?
As always, Dwight’s comments are right on and may be a defense for the ticket of driving a motor vehicle in the bike lane, if in fact that was the violation.