Mike Seate About New Florida Bill To Crush Motorcyclist Thrills.

On January 12, I wrote an article called "Debate Raging About Motorcyclist Penalties" addressing a Florida Bill aimed at sanctioning bikers doing stunt riding and exceeding the legal speed limit. Mike Seate, a well known motorcycle journalist and author of many hard cover books on our custom bikes just wrote an interesting article on this subject in the Pittsburgh Tribune. Here his point of view.

‘A few years back, I wrote a book about the then-emergent sport of motorcycle stunt riding. At the time, maybe a dozen teams of young riders were making a good living pulling wheelies and other collarbone-crushing stunts on high-powered motorcycles. They taped the results and sold the videos at a huge profit. It was fun and dangerous, but in our post-MTV "Jackass" world, motorcycle stunt riding was far from a serious crime. Until now, that is.

Florida State Rep. Carlos Lopez-Cantera (R-Miami) has introduced House Bill 137, which is aimed at stamping out stunt riding once and for all. If the bill becomes law, anyone caught stunt riding or exceeding the speed limit by 50 mph on a motorcycle in Florida will be arrested and have their bike impounded and their license suspended for 10 years. Lopez-Cantera said he’s determined to make stunt riders "fear the law." It might sound like action-movie dialogue from "Robocop," but, unfortunately, this is an elected representative talking. The state senator claims the 119 motorcyclists killed in roadway accidents in his state in 2006 motivated his decision. But he fails to address how car drivers — many distracted by cell phone conversations, drugs or alcohol, or just plan bad drivers — might have contributed to the number. This kind of overzealous, punitive lawmaking is a threat to all motorists, regardless of how we get around. Laws like this tend to be contagious and just might end up in Pennsylvania sooner or later. A proposed law might mean one thing on paper, but out on the streets, where cops can and, often, will interpret the rule of law with millions of variances, there’s no telling what they might construe as "stunt riding." Slam on the brakes too hard to avoid a crash in front of the wrong cop on the wrong day? Ten year’s riding ban and jail for you, sir. Front wheel lifts off the ground when accelerating too hard? Tear away from a stoplight fast to get out of congested, rush hour traffic? Better call the bail bondsman. You can find car drivers exceeding the speed limit by 50 mph every day, but I can’t imagine anyone jailing them for doing so. Maybe lawmakers like Lopez-Cantera wouldn’t introduce ill-conceived laws like this if they respected the rights of motorcyclists, and viewed us as something more than a group of thrill-seeking kids who need to be taught a lesson".

7 Responses to “Mike Seate About New Florida Bill To Crush Motorcyclist Thrills.”

  1. 1 J Feb 10th, 2008 at 5:04 am

    Sure, there are car drivers doing 50 over, and if they’re caught, yes, they will go to jail- unless you’re in Florida and you’re Nick Hogan……..

    Absolutely, this bill is overzealous and punitive- as is most new law. What this really is all about is the back-handed legislation of ultra-performance bikes out of the market. Much like what happened in the early 70s with musclecars being weaned out via unjustifiable insurance rate hikes and delusional smog legislation, lawmakers seek now to capriciously wipe out go-fast motorcycle, thus endearing themselves to their constituancies.

    The problem is, there is absolutely NO basis in the Constitution that enables anyone to pass such a law. It is absolutely unconstitutional by the government to restrict access to vehicles that meet every letter of the law regarding road-worthiness….. It is bad law, period.

    It is also a very slippery slope. Next, look for bans on performance cars. While we’re at it, no one really needs to travel faster than 65 anyway- speed is dangerous, and it wastes resources. Oh, by the way- no one ever needs to wear the color black again- it promotes discord and a tendency to disobey………

  2. 2 ROGUE Feb 10th, 2008 at 9:19 am

    I also have been trying to let the motorcycle riders of Florida know about this bill.
    The fact that very few riders are doing this and it gets blown out of proportion by the media has allowed the sponsor of the bill to introduce legislation to take ones property.
    The bills sponsor is known to have close ties to the law enforcement agencies that would be consficating the motorcycles.We have seen laws like this get passed and then items added to it as time goes by. Tire noise in extreme braking or accelerating to get out of a potential dangerous situation could be cause for a member of law enforcement that wants your ride to take it. The motorcycles would later be auctioned off and in the past we have seen members of law enforcement being the succesfull bidders.
    There are numerous laws already in place to handle those few that are doing what many considered as dangerous acts on our roads. The system has been in place for many years and works very well. Ticket, Court, Fines, Suspension, and if nothing else JAIL!
    Now we have a few that want to put a twist on this system for their own gain and that is to take a citizens personal property. If this door is allowed to open it will continue.
    Motorcycle Rights Groups in Florida are arguing the law is discrimitory and does not address other types of vehicles. While this is true it is Not The Way To Fight This Proposed Law.THe argument is there are already laws in place to address the situation and more important Law Enforcement Should Not Be Allowed To Consficate Personal Property For Traffic Offenses.
    These groups seem to forget that many of their membership also drive other types of vehicles.By arguing (wining)you are picking on us because we ride and are not being fair by targeting other vehicles is falling into the hands of those trying to take posessions away from citizens.
    Please take the time to contact your legislators and let them know how you fell about this. Do not let others speak for you as they may not be saying what you want them to.
    At this time HB 137 has been tabled BUT can come back up at any time.
    Thank You

  3. 3 Nicker Feb 10th, 2008 at 11:23 pm

    This is an obvious “over the top reaction by” a grand standing law makers.


    Calmly state the obvious to the press and radio talk shows:
    “…There are numerous laws already in place to handle those…”
    “…absolutely NO basis in the Constitution that enables anyone to pass such a law…”
    Subjective enforcement..
    “…a very slippery slope…”

    – Start a recall drive on old Lopez-Cantera for incompetence.
    – And/or engineer a test case to take to the Florida supreme court.

    Don’t get all pissy, just get down to business.
    This is still a free country (for now that is).
    There is a process.
    But it doesn’t include bitching without action.
    So….. GET ACTIVE!


  4. 4 Dave Feb 11th, 2008 at 10:00 pm

    While they’re at it, why not go crazy and fine skate boarders who ride on the sidewalk, insist that surfers wear flotation vests or be fined… maybe arrest parents that allow their kids to ride a bicycle without pads & and a mouthpiece, and let’s just do away with contact sports, it’s all just too dangerous!
    Fact is, this is just another blowhard politician spouting rhethoric about “those damn youngsers” in order to seem in-tune with his aging constituancy in Florida, to get airtime, and maybe a vote or two. This proposition has no teeth, and it will never happen. It is however, another black eye that the motorcycle rider will be forced to bear, as we make the streets ever more dangerous for the little old ladies out there going to bingo at the union hall.
    How about doing something about psycho truck drivers? I could get on that bandwagon!

  5. 5 Jack Feb 12th, 2008 at 10:11 am

    Y’all need to be informed about the new helmet law that was put into affect in North Carolina this year. It gives the police officer as well as the judges the power to decide what is a legal helmet and what is not. Can you say Big Brother? The powers to be have been handing out tickets left and right to the tune of $25 and $75 dollars coart fees. This law could affect you in the future.
    I just had a friend who was stopped and ticketed for his helmet and had nothing to drink all day, but was given a breathalizer test because the officer said his eyes were red.
    If the motorcyle organizations as well as HD and the rest of the motorcycle industry fail to band together and form a political lobbying group to fight unfair and unconstitutional laws this is just the beginning of the end for the rights of individuals riding on two wheels.

  6. 6 Arie Feb 12th, 2008 at 9:18 pm

    You gotta love our lawmakers. Congressman Bill Janklow kills a rider because the good Congressman was going 75 in a 55 speed zone and ran a stop sign. Moreover, this was something like his 12 speeding ticket in four years! Given that the police probably give leniency to these guys, it is my bet that he deserved a few more than just 12. Iā€™m not sure of the punishment served on Mr. Janklow, I will guess it did not include a 10-year license suspension or confiscation of his cage. If you want to stunt on the street, maybe you should become an elected official.

  7. 7 ~michael in LA Feb 15th, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    The law is overkill. There are already laws addressing reckless driving, speeding, lane changing viloations, etc. If the rider hits someone or something, there are laws addressing that too…

    There are already laws on the books to deal with theses issues. Overlegislation is just grandstanding by legislators. If enough riders organize, write, and call them – they’ll back down. But only if you take action.

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Cyril Huze