Bikers' Rights: Sportbikers Silent As Rights Slip Away: SB-802 Passes Committee

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Sportbikers Silent As Rights Slip Away: SB-802 Passes Committee
Release Number 0066

Motorcycling Endurance Riders
Bikers Rights, Motorcyclists Rights, Long Distance Motorcycle Riding

SB-802 GENERAL BILL by Garcia (Compare HB-137)

"Motorcycles or Mopeds/Reckless Driving [EPCC]; Provides that if a person is operating or is in actual physical control of a motorcycle while driving recklessly, a law enforcement officer shall arrest the person, take him or her into custody, and seize the motorcycle. Requires that a person riding on a motorcyle or moped must ride while sitting astride the seat with one leg on each side and with both wheels on the ground at all times, etc."



Extreme Long Distance Endurance Motorcycle Rider IronBoltBruce Fellow Freedom Fighters:

Big Brother's right to seize your motorcycle has come one step closer to becoming a reality in Florida and a nightmarish precedent for statehouses nationwide. Yesterday, HB-137's companion bill SB-802 passed unanimously through the Florida State Senate Transportation Committee. Here is a verbatim report from Dara "Sam" McLain, who along with fellow bikers' rights advocate Robert "RC" Conroy attended the meeting and spoke out against the bill:

-----Original Message-----
From: macgs [mailto:macgs@comcast.net]
Sent: Wednesday, April 02, 2008 1:42 AM
To: Bruce@ldrlongdistancerider.com;
Subject: SB 802 Hearing - reported by Dara "Sam" McLain

Greetings All,

Below is the summary, as I saw it, at the Hearing for SB 802, companion bill to HB 137. This comes late because I was busy doing work (ya, I have a day job) this afternoon that I should have been doing this morning while I was at the Senate building with RC attending the hearing.

In a room about 3/4 full, there were THREE bikers present to support our position opposing this bill. THREE BIKERS; Florida Abate President, RC and myself. The Abate President arrives with a companion, but it is not known if she is a biker or not. Either way, not one Sport Biker stepped forward to state his or her position. There were none in the room that I could see. From my perspective, it appears Sport Bikers are just not concerned about having their bikes confiscated, and their licenses taken from them for ten years. As a rider of 30+ years, I find that very distasteful. My bike has two wheels, so does yours. How dare you diminish my right to ride free by your apathy.

As most of you know, this bill started out discriminatory against all bikers, outlined a severe penalty for infractions, and is largely redundant, given the laws on the books already for reckless driving.

And as things progressed, amendments were made to HB 137 and text was changed to include all drivers. However, HB 137 still called out motorcycles specifically, and defines somewhat specifically what constitutes non-stunt riding; i.e. two wheels on the ground at all times, one leg on both sides of the bike, etc.

Legislators are adamant that those who pull wheelies at high speeds, weave in and out of traffic at high speeds, or simply ride their bikes at high speed, will pay the consequences. Even if they didn't add the text to [lamely] exclude those of us who ride motorcycles that won't perform these types of stunts, I'd still know they meant Sport Bike riders. Legislators were VERY specific about who is targeted by this bill. My fear, and that of others, is law enforcement won't bother to distinguish between the two.

At the first hearing, I and others, protested that, among other things, this bill is one-sided. Their aim, they said, is to prevent senseless death of these Sport Bike riders. While we pointed out they were ignoring the senseless death of many more riders that happen daily at the hands of distracted drivers who go unpunished.

So, late last night, an amendment was added to SB 802, to stiffen the penalties of drivers who cause death or injury to another through a traffic violation. For whatever reason - a dangling carrot, an honest concern, whatever - it was added to this bill. However, and far more importantly, SEIZURE is still very much alive in this bill. Fine me $1000, give me jail time, take away my endorsement for a period of time, but the government does not have the right to confiscate my motorcycle. Period. The Forfeiture law was enacted to prevent the continuation of drug manufacture and sale after the dealer was convicted. Confiscating cars and/or motorcycles for driving violations is out of those bounds and unconstitutional.

Sadly, many Senators who are fairly new to this bill, are so focused on the Sport Bike issue that they immediately shot down this amendment that might have done some good. So once again, we are back at square one, and this bill is still very much alive! And again, where the hell was the support?? Where are all the Sport Bike riders who oppose this bill? I can almost understand the biker community who does not ride the sport bikes not having a concern, but this bill seriously targets Sport bikers. Do you not care? Or are you merely waiting for those of us who are willing to fight for our freedom to do it for you?

Once the new amendment was read, the only opposing comment from the Transportation Committee was how much of a fiscal "burden" it might be for the state to fork up room and board (jail time) for a driver who kills in the process of a traffic violation! This was Senator Paula Dockery I believe. (Without a seating chart and "name tags" I can't be sure.) From my point of view, she didn't care one iota whether bikers died on the road at the hands of incompetent drivers. She couldn't get this amendment killed fast enough. In fact, I didn't get the impression that she, or several others, cared one bit about any death of a motorcyclist. (Senator Dockery goes up on the political candidate do-not-vote-for Wall-of-Shame). And this leads me to believe that the motive for this bill and HB 137, from the beginning, is not to stop any deaths, but to catch the culprits and make some money from it. I'll be writing to Senator Dockery to express my distaste over her obvious lack of concern for those who die at the hands of distracted and incompetent drivers.

It should be noted that Senator Baker spoke very much in favor of the stiffer penalty amendment, as did Senator Garcia. They both seem to "get it" about ROWV causing so many motorcycle deaths. The Florida Abate President spoke in support of the amendment and expressed disappointment in this action to strike. RC and I declined to speak on behalf of the amendment, stating we would speak on the bill itself.

The bill was brought to the table and Senator Garcia, the sponsor of the bill, declined to speak until all were heard. Again, the Florida Abate president informed the committee that his organization opposed the bill in it's entirety. He testified that confiscation of property costs the state money.

Next was RC, who covered several points; penalties covered in this bill for stunt riding far exceed those of incompetent auto drivers who kill and maim riders, the redundancy of the bill to existing laws, and discrimination of motorcyclists.

I was last to speak, as no others stepped forward. I expressed extreme disappointment in the attitude of the committee of placing a fiscal value on the death of another and refusing to entertain the amendment put forth by Senator Garcia. I also spoke of the unconstitutionality of property seizure, and that civil seizure does not provide for Due Process; that 80% of forfeitures are seized from those who are never charged with a crime.

Senator Alex Villalobos challenged my comments on forfeiture, and I pointed out that the bill is littered with text that says the officer "shall arrest the perpetrator, throw him in jail, and seize the property", and that a court "official" shall determine the outcome. That sounded to me like the officer can make the decision of guilt on the fly, and your property seized without proof of the crime. Only one line in the bill said that forfeiture would occur "if" convicted.

For those who are unaware of what Civil Forfeiture might mean to you, here's a few highlights. You are NOT entitled to a trial by jury. You are NOT entitled to an Attorney (except if you want to pay a $10k retainer yourself to regain $4000 worth of personal property). You are guilty until proven innocent and the burden of proving your innocence is on YOU, at your expense. Even if you are acquitted or found not guilty of any charges, THEY CAN STILL KEEP YOUR MOTORCYCLE.

It goes without saying that once motorcycles are targeted in any way for confiscation, by law, law enforcement will add that to their list of revenue generation. This happens daily already. Bikers are pulled over and cited for minor infractions, such as handlebar height, and their bikes are confiscated. Even if the citation is invalid and proven so, the owner must still pay very high fees to release his/her property from impoundment. If the process takes too long, the property may be sold, and the owner will never recover the property at all, or the money it was sold for.

John L. Worrall, Department of Criminal Justice, California State University at San Bernardino, said it very aptly, "A conflict of interest between effective crime control and creative fiscal management will persist so long as law enforcement agencies remain dependent on civil asset forfeiture."

Furthermore, 80% of property forfeited to US government agencies in the last decade was seized from owners who were never charged with a crime! Over $7 Billion has been forfeited to the government since 1985. Florida is about to add motorcycles to that equation.

Senator Garcia presented the same video that was shown at the first hearing on HB 137. And again, it elicited gasps and outrage from the committee members, and many in the audience.

Following the video, Senator Larcenia Bullard spoke on the attributes of motorcyclists. She said she used to think we were all bad people. Then she discovered that we are people just like anyone else, and she learned of the charities we contribute to, and the selfless acts of kindness bikers are known for.

But hard on the heels of these very kind words, she stated that those who ride Sport Bikes in the manner depicted on the video deserve this severe punishment and she supported this bill 100%.

The committee vote was unanimous. To those of you who didn't show up to oppose this bill, at any of the three hearings so far, thank you very much for helping to push through one of the most damaging and nebulous bills I've ever seen.

I want to thank all of you who put forth so much effort in sending your views through mail, email and phone calls. I know it has helped to get text changes in this bill. Please continue to write to the committee members and express your extreme opposition to forfeiture.

However, Sport Bike riders be forewarned, if and when this law goes into effect in October, you WILL be targeted by law enforcement, profiled, and falsely accused even if you ride safe and sane, and never do any of these stunts. I am sure that law enforcement will make it a priority to help you rack up your offences so they can confiscate your bike. And since you have made no effort whatsoever to represent yourselves at these hearings, you will have no one to blame but the man/woman in the mirror. I wish you luck, you'll need it. This bill is well on its way to becoming law in October, in spite of our best efforts.

Dara McLain
aka Sam


Committee Info:

Senate Bill 802 Sponsor: 
Senator Rudy Garcia (R)
District Office:
7475 West Fourth Ave.
Hialeah, FL
(305) 364-3191
Senate VOIP 44000 

Legislative Assistants: Susie Martin,
 David Marin and Ana Pereira

Tallahassee Office:
Room 416
Senate Office Building
404 South Monroe Street Tallahassee, FL
(850) 487-5106
Senate VOIP 5106

Email: garcia.rudy.web@flsenate.gov 

Transportation Committee:


Senator Carey Baker (R)
District Offices:
301 West Ward Avenue
Eustis, FL 32726-4024
(352) 742-6490
Senate VOIP 42000 
FAX (352)742-6492
Outside Lake County:

Legislative Assistants: 
Gale Bass, Renee Strong, Vilma Tucker
 and Thomas Hammons

Lady Lake, FL
(352) 360-6739
Senate VOIP 42010

DeLand, FL
(386) 736-5048
Senate VOIP 42020 

Tallahassee Office:
Room 316
Senate Office Building
404 South Monroe Street Tallahassee, FL
(850) 487-5014
Senate VOIP 5014
Email: baker.carey.web@flsenate.gov

Vice Chair: 
Senator Larcenia J. Bullard (D)
District Office:
8603 S. Dixie Highway,
Suite 304
Miami, FL 33143
(305) 668-7344
Senate VOIP 43900 
FAX: (305) 668-7346

Legislative Assistants:
Merdochey LaFrance, Ryan Hawkins,
 Jennifer Alexandre and Linda Dallas 

Tallahassee Office:
Room 218 
Senate Office Building
404 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 
(850) 487-5127
Senate VOIP 5127

Email: bullard.larcenia.web@flsenate.gov

Senator Lee Constantine (R)
District Office:
378 Centerpointe Circle,
Suite 1268
Altamonte Springs, FL
(407) 331-9675
Senate VOIP 42200 

Legislative Assistants: Abigail Souders,
 Micelle Emery and Christopher
Tallahassee Office:
Room 413
Senate Office Building
404 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL
(850) 487-5050
Senate VOIP 5050

Email: constantine.lee.web@flsenate.gov 

Senator Paula Dockery (R) 
District Office:
P.O. Drawer 2395
Lakeland, FL 33806-2395
(863) 413-2900
Senate VOIP 41500 
FAX: (863) 413-2902

Legislative Assistants:
April Mucci, Laura Rodriguez,
 Matthew Hinton and Sarah Hardy

Tallahassee Office:
Room 314
Senate Office Building
404 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 
(850) 487-5040
Senate VOIP 5040 

Email: dockery.paula.web@flsenate.gov

Senator Arthenia L. Joyner (D) 
District Office:
508 W. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard 
Suite C
Tampa, FL 33603-3415
(813) 233-4277
Senate VOIP 41800 
FAX (813) 233-4280

Legislative Assistants: Rosalie Smith, 
Charlie Anderson and Michele Rayner

Tallahassee Office:
Room 224
Senate Office Building 
404 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL
(850) 487-5059
Senate VOIP 5059
FAX (888) 263-7871

Email: joyner.arthenia.web@flsenate.gov

Senator Gwen Margolis (D) 
District Office:
1005 Kane Concourse
Suite 205
Bay Harbor Island, FL
(305) 993-3632
Senate VOIP 43500 
FAX (305) 993-3635

Legislative Assistants:
Zachary Kobrin, Sharon West James and 
Cameron Sisser
Tallahassee Office:
Room 214
Senate Office Building 
404 South Monroe Street Tallahassee, FL
(850) 487-5121
Senate VOIP 5121

Email: margolis.gwen.web@flsenate.gov 

Senator J. Alex Villalobos (R) 
District Office:
9766 S.W. 24th Street, 
Suite 18
Miami, FL
(305) 222-4160
Senate VOIP 43800 

Legislative Assistants: Vicky Romaguera-Garcia,
 Norma Ledesma, Nanea Marcial
and Sonia Castro

Tallahassee Office:
Room 306
Senate Office Building
404 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL
(850) 487-5130
Senate VOIP 5130

Email: villalobos.alex.web@flsenate.gov

Senator Daniel Webster (R) 
District Office:
315 South Dillard Street 
Winter Garden, FL 34787 
(407) 656-0066
Senate VOIP 40900 
FAX (407) 297-2064

Legislative Assistants: Ann Drawdy 
and Cindy Brown 

Tallahassee Office:
Room 330
Senate Office Building 
404 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL
(850) 487-5047
Senate VOIP 5047

Legislative Assistant: Jaryn Emhof

Email: No email listed

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