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Vertical tag law costs unsuspecting biker

March 4, 2009

Vertical tag law costs unsuspecting biker

Antonio Gonzales rode his customized Harley-Davidson from New Mexico to Bike Week, and then his wallet got a painful welcome from a Flagler Beach police officer — a $1,151 citation for having his bike’s license plate mounted vertically on a saddle bag. 

“I rode all the way out here and all I have is 700 bucks,” Gonzales said. “Then I get a $1,151 ticket.”

Many bikers who ride customized motorcycles mount their plates vertically. ABATE, a motorcyclists advocacy group, was shocked by the new state law that took effect in the summer, said Mike Price, state legislative director for ABATE of Florida.

Price said the problem was “a very poorly written law” meant to target riders who intentionally conceal their plates, including using devices to flip the plates up out of sight. But instead it also snares people who simply mount the plates vertically, Price said.

He said ABATE has contacted the law’s originators, Rep. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, a Republican from Miami, and Sen. Rudy Garcia, a Republican from Hialeah.

“Of course, they realized the error in the wording of the new law and it is our understanding that this law will be corrected during this next legislative session,” Price said.

Lopez-Cantera and Garcia could not be reached Tuesday, the opening day of the session.

Price recommends that motorcyclists take the issue to court and ask to be fined under an already existing law against vertical plates, which calls for only about a $60 fine.

The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office is only issuing $91 fines for improper display of vertical plates, spokesman Brandon Haught said. He said deputies understand the $1,151 fine has to do more with concealment than improper display.

Daytona Beach police have written three or four of the $1,151 citations, a spokesman said.

Flagler Beach Police Chief Dan Cody said he thought the fine was excessive, but he added his department has cited three or four bikers with the big fine.

“Myself, I’d suggest to all these people to go to court and let the judge decide,” Cody said. “To me, it’s ridiculous.”

One Comment leave one →
  1. March 4, 2009 1:22 pm

    I agree with what you are saying, but as ever it is difficult to get the average person believing it.

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