Friday, October 14, 2011

Motorized Bicycles in Florida Lead to Criminal Traffic Penalties

St. Petersburg Criminal Attorney and Former State Prosecutor Melinda Morris of the Morris Law Firm discusses how operating a simple motorized bicycle can turn into a Driving While License Suspended or Revoked (DWLSR) charge.

Issue:

Although motorized bicycles and Go-Peds are commonly used throughout Florida as an easy and economical form of transportation, these are actually illegal under Florida law, and the operation of one can lead to serious criminal penalties for traffic offenses.


Why This Matters To You:

As a cheaper and more fuel efficient means of transportation, many Florida residents use motorized bicycles if their driver’s license has been suspended or revoked, if they can’t afford gas or the upkeep of a traditional motor vehicle, or simply as an easier, hassle-free way to navigate through streets of Florida.

However, motorized cyclists have been pulled over recently and cited with traffic violations throughout Florida for riding on these bicycles.  According to law enforcement, motorized bicycles would have to be licensed and registered as a motor vehicle in order to be operated in public, including streets and sidewalks, in Florida.  Otherwise, the bicycle can only be used on private property.  These bicycles cannot be registered in Florida, as they are not manufactured in a way that complies with the requirements of Florida’s Motor Vehicle Safety Act.

Florida’s laws do not specifically state a completely motorized bicycle is either a motor vehicle or a bicycle.  A motor vehicle is defined to include scooters, mopeds, Go-Peds, pocket bikes, and motorized scooters.  The Florida Department of Transpiration defines a bicycle as, “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, having two tandem wheels, and including any device generally recognized as a bicycle though equipped with two front or two rear wheels.”

Since Florida’s law enforcement officers consider motorized bicycles to be motor vehicles, if you are caught operating one without a license because your license has been suspended or revoked due to a DUI or for another serious traffic offense, you could be charged with driving while license suspended in St. Petersburg.

Although this offense may not seem that serious, if you are on probation for a more serious criminal offense, such as a felony or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you could be charged with a violation of probation in Pinellas County, and even be sent to prison or jail.

Additionally, since the motorized bicycles are illegal in public, an individual can still receive a traffic ticket for operating one – even if they do not have a suspended license or are on probation for any other criminal offense.


What To Do Next:

If you have been charged with a criminal traffic offense, such as driving with a suspended license or DUI, contact a St. Petersburg Traffic Lawyer to discuss possible defenses and specific strategies that may exist in your case. Call the Morris Law Firm at 727-388-4736 to discuss you case directly with an attorney, or fill out our online form to be contacted for a free initial consultation. The Morris Law Firm can help you and has specific knowledge and experience in traffic offenses and representing alleged offenders throughout Pinellas County the entire Tampa Bay, FL area (St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Hillsborough, Pasco, Manatee, Sarasota and Bradenton).