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Fines for Young Passengers

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In my latest "American Motorcyclist" magazine (the American Motorcyclist Association's monthly periodical) in the Thumbs Up / Thumbs Down column, this "Thumbs Down" caught my eye:

"Thumbs Down to law enforcement and court officials in Oakwood Hills, IL for issuing citations and fines to motorcyclist Dan Homan for riding his 2002 HD Road King with his daughter and niece in a two-seat sidecar. Despite Homan's presentation of Illinois law exempting sidecars from seatbelt requirements, the judge found him guilty. Hamas has hired a lawyer and plans to file an appeal."

I don't know about others here, but this troubles me greatly. I fear as we roll on (pun intended) to a future where fewer and fewer people "get it" -- firstly, fewer young people are getting their license (I mean regular driver's license, not motorcycles -- you can read countless articles on the reason, but suffice it to say, none of the reasons are going to predispose these people from understanding motorcyclists' and sidecarists' passions); secondly, "driverless" cars are developing at a rapid pace -- that we will be marginalized, harassed, and possibly even legislated against, eventually. Mr. Homan seems to be on the bleeding edge of facing this ignorant portion of our populace.

So my question is, does the USCA have any legal support section -- like at least some members who happen to be attorneys and who are passionate about rigs?

The AMA has a serious legal team, and hacks benefit in a general sense, but in sidecar-specific areas, like Mr. Homan's trials and tribulations, sidecars are far too tiny a slivery of the AMA membership for them to expend any energy on it (they have far far bigger fish to fry).

For my part, I'd be comfortable for an increase in annual dues if the increase were specified for establishing a legal fund to help organize efforts around legal matters that are sidecar specific.

- Phil

I'm not an attorney but it seems to me if there is specific law exempting sidecars from seatbelt use in Illinois law, then Mr Homan broke no law, the judge is in error as well as the cop who wrote the citation. Both the police and the judge are enforcing their opinion, not the law. The sad thing is it will probably cost more in attorney fees to make it right than the cost of the initial undue fine. But justice will be worth it in the end. That's my opinion at any rate and has nothing to do with your original question about a USCA legal fund.

Tom Wells aka Reardan Tom

It would be nice to know more details of exactly what he was cited for.

What do you expect from Illinois??? Look what came from there. 🙂

Sam :O

I'm not an attorney either, but not sure what the complaint is about. It appears that Illinois exempts sidecars from having to have seat belts, while California requires them (if that is the law, I don't know). One problem for law enforcement would be if the officer just gave a warning because you are visiting from out of state and later something happen causing your passengers to be injured the agency might be libel for not enforcing the law.

But is this any different from riding across the country from a state that does not require a helmet to a state where it is required? When you enter the state that requires helmet use, you wear one or be cited and maybe even be prevented from riding any further until you acquire a helmet. The one thing about laws & seat belts in a sidecar is something I personally wouldn't even thought about, but that would not be an excuse. My rig does have a seat belt, and I did purchase it in Illinois and rode it home. If I had brought it in Washington I might not have given it a thought if it had seat belts or not. By the way, any passenger in my rig does wear the seat belt.

I didn't understand that this happened while they were riding in CA. And I still don't see that. I thought they were riding in their own state of Illinois. So like Brian says, looks like we need more details. Not that we'll decide here but it makes for some interesting conversation. And food for thought.

Tom Wells aka Reardan Tom

California does not require seat belts in sidecars.

Chuck

Hookalatch - 12/28/2015 2:49 PM

California does not require seat belts in sidecars.

Chuck

It appears there is some details missing in the original post then. Or the LEO didn't know his states laws. Many years ago one of the guys I worked with issued a ticket for "Driving bearfoot". There is no RCW violation about being bearfoot while driving. We had a great laugh about it, but he had to re-contact the driver, explain he was wrong and retrieve the customer's copy of the citation, then to void a ticket he had to summit all the copies to the court with a note why he was requesting the dismissal.

It might help the guy out if you can come up with the actual CA statute citation that says seat belts aren't required.

Al Olme - 12/28/2015 5:31 PM It might help the guy out if you can come up with the actual CA statute citation that says seat belts aren't required.

Perhaps I am missing something from the original post but I didn't see where the violation in question occurred in California.

In any case if you want the CA info it is below. Sidecars are considered motorcycles in CA but interestingly they do not require a motorcycle license endorsement to operate. They can be operated with the standard Class C license but all other regulations pertaining to motorcycles apply to them.

27314. (a) No dealer shall sell or offer for sale any used

passenger vehicle that was manufactured on or after January 1, 1962,

other than a motorcycle, unless it is equipped with at least two

seatbelts which are installed for the use of persons in the front

seat of the vehicle.

*Urals are sold in CA without seat belts

27315. (a) The Legislature finds that a mandatory seatbelt law will

contribute to reducing highway deaths and injuries by encouraging

greater usage of existing manual seatbelts, that automatic crash

protection systems that require no action by vehicle occupants offer

the best hope of reducing deaths and injuries, and that encouraging

the use of manual safety belts is only a partial remedy for

addressing this major cause of death and injury. The Legislature

declares that the enactment of this section is intended to be

compatible with support for federal motor vehicle safety standards

requiring automatic crash protection systems and should not be used

in any manner to rescind federal requirements for installation of

automatic restraints in new cars.

(b) This section shall be known and may be cited as the Motor

Vehicle Safety Act.

(c) (1) As used in this section, "motor vehicle" means a passenger

vehicle, a motortruck, or a truck tractor, but does not include a

motorcycle.

27800. It is unlawful for a driver of a motorcycle or a motorized

bicycle to carry any other person thereon, except on a seat securely

fastened to the machine at the rear of the driver and provided with

footrests, or in a sidecar attached to a motorcycle and designed for

the purpose of carrying a passenger. Every passenger on a motorcycle

or a motorized bicycle shall keep his feet on the footrests while

such vehicle is in motion. (No mention of seat belts required)

The link below shows where vehicles are classified as motorcycles if they have 2 or 3 wheels.

https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/detail/motorcycles/motorcycles

Chuck

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