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#1 2015-05-09 12:00:15

bizikletari
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Registered: 2009-03-18
Posts: 223

APD believes bicycles are "motor vehicles"

The UT's Daily Texan reports that APD considers bicycles to be "motor vehicles"

http://www.dailytexanonline.com/2015/05 … ted-biking

According to APD officer Nathan Blake, operating a bicycle at or above a blood alcohol content of .08 is a punishable crime.

“[Motor vehicle] is one of the elements of a DWI,” Blake said. “From a police officer’s perspective, a bicycle is a motor vehicle.”

Section 49.04 of the Texas Penal Code defines the elements of a DWI offense and section 32.34 defines a motor vehicle as a device that can transport a person on a highway, excluding devices on stationary rails or tracks. The penalty for a DWI on a bike is the same as a DWI in a car. A first DWI offense carries a penalty of up to six months in prison and a maximum $2,000 fine.

Blake said operating a bicycle while intoxicated in a public place is especially problematic.

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#2 2015-05-09 14:19:38

MichaelBluejay
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From: Austin, TX
Registered: 2008-05-26
Posts: 1,168
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Re: APD believes bicycles are "motor vehicles"

Yes, the police always consider bicycles to be motor vehicles with regards to operator responsibilities and punishment.  But if the issue is rights (like being able to get a crash report when you're injured)...not so much.

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#3 2015-05-09 14:29:41

dougmc
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Registered: 2008-06-01
Posts: 549

Re: APD believes bicycles are "motor vehicles"

In the case of the DWI law ... a bicycle *is* a motor vehicle, and so the police are correct here.

PENAL CODE
TITLE 10. OFFENSES AGAINST PUBLIC HEALTH, SAFETY, AND MORALS
CHAPTER 49. INTOXICATION AND ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE OFFENSES
Sec. 49.01.  DEFINITIONS.  In this chapter:
...
(3)  "Motor vehicle" has the meaning assigned by Section 32.34(a).
...
Sec. 49.04.  DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED.  (a) A person commits an offense if the person is intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place.

PENAL CODE
TITLE 7. OFFENSES AGAINST PROPERTY
CHAPTER 32. FRAUD
Sec. 32.34.  FRAUDULENT TRANSFER OF A MOTOR VEHICLE.  (a)  In this section:
(2) "Motor vehicle" means a device in, on, or by which a person or property is or may be transported or drawn on a highway, except a device used exclusively on stationary rails or tracks.

Lawyers say it's absurd and so do cops, but it's the law.

APD will normally give you a class C public intoxication charge if they catch you riding your bike drunk, but if you really piss them off or cause injury or something, a class B driving while intoxicated charge *is* a legal option.

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#4 2015-05-09 14:36:17

dougmc
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Registered: 2008-06-01
Posts: 549

Re: APD believes bicycles are "motor vehicles"

MichaelBluejay wrote:

Yes, the police always consider bicycles to be motor vehicles with regards to operator responsibilities and punishment.

Well, APD doesn't give you a ticket for riding your bicycle without insurance, registration, plates, an effective muffler, etc.

For most of the transportation code, bicycles are treated as *vehicles*, but not *motor vehicles*, and most of the transportation code talks about *vehicles* rather than *motor vehicles*, and the laws that explicitly say *motor vehicles* don't apply to bicycles.

But as I already said, the DWI code is an exception, where the law says *motor vehicles* and then points to a definition of motor vehicle that applies to bicycles.  Weird, but it's the law.

But if the issue is rights (like being able to get a crash report when you're injured)...not so much.

In their defense, at the PBKTC "Pedaling for Safer Roads III" event last Thursday, the police officer there brought up Frankie's case extensively and said that because of that, they've changed their policy so that they will be writing up crash reports for incidents that don't involve motor vehicles as well.

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#5 2015-05-09 15:24:09

MichaelBluejay
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From: Austin, TX
Registered: 2008-05-26
Posts: 1,168
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Re: APD believes bicycles are "motor vehicles"

dougmc wrote:

In their defense, at the PBKTC "Pedaling for Safer Roads III" event last Thursday, the police officer there brought up Frankie's case extensively and said that because of that, they've changed their policy so that they will be writing up crash reports for incidents that don't involve motor vehicles as well.

Yes, and had APD not been called out on their failure publicly in a big Chronicle article, they would have been happy to continue to blow off Frankie, and others like her.  They finally acted, but we saw what it took them to do so.

Twenty years ago I kept calling trying to find out what was happening to the case against a drunk driver who killed a cyclist, and the authorities just kept telling me it was "under investigation", for *months*.  Finally the TV news came out and interviewed me, and I pointed out that when a drunk driver killed a cop, they police charged her within *hours*.  After that report aired, suddenly the investigation was completed.

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#6 2015-05-09 18:48:46

bizikletari
Member
Registered: 2009-03-18
Posts: 223

Re: APD believes bicycles are "motor vehicles"

Well, even if it may be true that in the TX traffic code a bicycle is descibed as a motor vehicle; it still makes no sense.
With such logic a calash, a litter or a rickshaw could be considered "motor vehicles", and that is plainly absurd, no matter the robe of the speaker.
Language is meant to serve as a vehicle of communication; Legalese instead, seems to operate in a Kafkaesque maze with a blind person casting a dice to choose any one word's meaning at any given moment, sentence or location.
I give up.

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#7 2015-05-10 12:52:35

dougmc
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Registered: 2008-06-01
Posts: 549

Re: APD believes bicycles are "motor vehicles"

It's not the Texas Traffic code.  It's the Texas Penal code.

To be more precise, CHAPTER 49. INTOXICATION AND ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE OFFENSES of the Penal code explicitly uses the definition of motor vehicle from Sec. 32.34.  FRAUDULENT TRANSFER OF A MOTOR VEHICLE, also in the Penal code.

It's weird, yes.  But it doesn't affect the Traffic code, which is most of what we worry about around here.

With such logic a calash, a litter or a rickshaw could be considered "motor vehicles"

If he's operating it while intoxicated, absolutely, for purposes of getting a DWI anyways.

But if it doesn't have an engine, this doesn't mean it will require a muffler or catalytic converter or insurance (though other regulations might require insurance for a rickshaw if it's used like a taxi) or anything like that.

Legalese instead, seems to operate in a Kafkaesque maze with a blind person casting a dice to choose any one word's meaning at any given moment, sentence or location.

I'm no lawyer.  If I can get to the bottom of this and explain it, it can't be *that* bad.

That said, you don't see me delving into the federal tax code ...

Ultimately, I think things like this come from how the law is made.  A problem (or opportunity to favor a campaign contributor, unfortunately)  is identified, and they try to fix it in the easiest way possible -- but with little regard to how the end result will look.

In this case, I suspect that MADD was pushing on them to close loopholes regarding DWI, and not allowing a drunk cyclist to get a DWI is indeed a loophole as far as they're concerned, so rather than change "motor vehicle" to "vehicle", they chose another definition of motor vehicle -- perhaps to obscure the purpose of the change from those who weren't paying close enough attention?

"Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made." - Otto von Bismarck

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