USCA Sidecar Forum

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Ticket / law issue

I'm looking for a bit of advice.  I received a ticket for floating the car on a dead end city street.  I had the car up for about 300ft, and included one turn to the right.  I had my kids with me and we all had helmets on.  I was in first gear the whole time, so I'm thinking I was going about 10 mph.  I've got a 2006 750 Ural and been riding motorcycles for 35 years and sidecars for 5 years.  The off duty cop came running out of his house and jumped in his unmarked car and gave me a citation for reckless driving, which is a pretty serious charge that carries 8 points.  He said that the sidecar could have flipped over and crushed the kids, he was really pissed.  I didn't do much talking except to acknowledge that I understood what he was saying.  I've got a mandatory court appearance at the end of May so I'm trying to determine an action plan.  Has anyone been down this road?  Any wisdom to be shared?     

It sounds like an over reaction.  When I took a sidecar safety class I had to fly the car as one of the skills in the class. I had a K1100/Motorvation Formula at the time so I had to take everything out of the car to make it light enough to lift.  One of the contest skills I have seen at sidecar rallies is "How far can I ride with the car in the air."  I bet the kids in the car would have called for more. That probably wouldn't have impressed the cranky cop.  My question is "Where in the traffic codes in your state does it state that you were breaking the law."  

Will Short 

Ex-President USCA

 

In Washington state where an endorsement is required to operate a 3 wheeled vehicle you can either take a class and once you pass pay the state their fee's or you can pay the company that puts on the class to test you, then pay the state their fee's. During the class which is state endorsed and subsidized and is fully insured flying the chair as we call it is part of the class. While you do not have to be able to in order to pass, nor are you required to even try it, you are encouraged to do so.

I would mount a defense if I had the ticket by showing up in court with my certificate as an instructor and the class curriculum showing this. If I were you I would see if you can get a copy of the curriculum. If you can not Ural has a training book, have not looked at it in years but I suspect it is covered. We also offer the book "driving a sidecar outfit" which would cover why this is an important skill. I would also take a close read of state law's. Does it require more then two wheels on the ground for a motorcycle? I know of one person who was pulled over for burnt out tail light, as the cop was starting to write the ticket, he asked how many tail lights is a motorcycle required to have? The sidecar tail light was working. No ticket.

Given the nature of the ticket, not only for the fine, but also for the increase it will cost in your insurance premiums and by far most importantly given the crazy society we live in, it is possible that Child protective services could get involved. As such hiring an attorney might be money very well spent.

Having the skills to fly the chair or at least know what to do if it comes up could save your life. In my case about 30 years ago it kept me from crashing. I came around a right hand curve only to find the right side of the road washed out down a steep hill side and with on coming traffic and not enough room to stop as I was already doing about 40MPH with my wife in the sidecar I simply flew the chair over the missing road.

But yes, you were screwing around on a public road, and most people being ignorant  of sidecars with kids in the sidecar would think it not safe. So it may be an up hill battle. 

If I can be of any help with your defense let me know. I was certified in the first ever certification class where I also acted as the assistant instructor having taught the class with David Hough who wrote the class (and the book "driving a sidecar outfit" and Urals training book) For a year or so at every class that was taught while the curriculum was refined. I have also been in the sidecar industry for over 20 years now and have been hired as an expert by an unnamed (non disclosure agreements) American maker of V twin motorcycles. (and yes I would NOT be charging you) Feel free to have the attorney that I trust you will be hiring phone me.

Jay G
DMC sidecars

866-638-1793

http://www.dmcsidecars.com

 

Wilbur, I don't know if you're the Wilbur from WA but there is an attorney in Seattle named Doug Souderland (or spelled close to that) who I rode with at one time with Vernon Wade and Anthony Jennings. My point is, Doug rides a sidecar rig and might be a good attorney to check with. Hopefully you'll be explaining all this to an understanding judge and he'll toss it out. Good luck!!

Tom Wells aka Reardan Tom

The laws vary by state.  In Minnesota, you can be charged with "Exhibition Driving" in that flying the chair in traffic is not allowed.  Instructor's range cards do call for a 'flying the chair' exercise and has been mentioned it is optional.  Minnesota police will give you a ticket and it will stick. DAMHIK.  'Hope things are different in whichever state you are.

Al Olme Minneapolis, Minnesota

So, If Washington state requires an endorsement for three wheels, I would be in violation of the statute if I pick up my new rig at DMC and ride it out of the state to home. The bike is licensed in Minnesota which has a motorcycle endorsement requirement, but does not have a separate three wheel vehicle endorsement. So it could be a red flag for the police to stop me for a license check. Have others had difficulty with this law when riding out of state with a new rig?

Jim

2014 CB1100 Std, 2000 ST1100 with DMC Classic, 1981 CB650C

In 2016 I rode through Washington state from south to north on our way to Alaska and had no issue with law enforcement.  I'm from Iowa, so I have no 3-wheel endorsement.  Perhaps I was lucky,  perhaps the 3-wheel endorsement was not required then,  or maybe it was because I didn't do anything to attract the attention of the police.  I rode US 97, US 2, and WA 8, most of which is in sparsely populated country.

I've flown the chair only twice.  The first time unintentionally when I took a very sharp right turn at too much speed.  As luck would have it there was no on-coming traffic and there was a driveway to a home I was able to use to get the chair down.  The other was intentional at the national rally in New York where Claude Stanley encouraged us to fly the chair in a right turn, and then to lift the rear wheel of the bike in a left turn.  Both took considerable effort with my Valkyrie/Motorvation Formula II rig.

The are two interstate agreements, the Driver License Compact and the Nonresident Violator Compact.  The first is basically an agreement to recognize out of state licenses AND SHARE VIOLATION INFORMATION for major violations and assign points in states that use a points system.  Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan, Tennessee and Wisconsin are not member states and do not share information under this compact. 

The second holds drivers responsible for moving violation tickets issued in other states in their home states if the tickets are unpaid.  Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan, Tennessee and Wisconsin are not member states and do not share information under this compact.

There's a third agreement called the Driver License Agreement that sort of merges the two but only three states are signed up for it, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Arkansas.  Part of this agreement allows for HIGHER FINES for offenses in other than their home states. Drivers MAY BE HELD RESPONSIBLE for laws in another state when the law doesn't apply in their home state.  Note that Washington does not subscribe to the DLA.

In practice, all states recognize the licenses of all other states.  There are "holes" like the minimum driving age.  If the minimum age in your state is 16 and you're driving in New Jersey where the age is 18, you can be ticketed AND not allowed to drive away.  In practice, none of this happens on a day to day basis.

Al Olme Minneapolis, Minnesota

Thanks for the tips.  You all made some really good suggestions.  I'm in Colorado, so I'll have to do some research on the Colorado specific training and law.  I will take your advice and hire an attorney.  I've chatted with a couple today already and they seem to think an expert video testimony from an authoritative source could really help.  Here is the definition of the charge:

Colorado 1401 Reckless driving: driving a vehicle in a way that shows a wanton or willful disregard for the safety of other people or property.

Seems like focusing on speed might be an angle to explore.  Speed really does matter on motorcycles.  Its interesting how different people perceive risk and danger.  I think most people over exaggerate the risks they are unfamiliar with, while we may tend to under appreciate the risks with things we are familiar with.  I wonder how rare it is to apply a reckless charge at such a slow speed?

Does anyone have any suggestions on an expert to testify (remotely).  Perhaps someone with law enforcement background, sidecar training, or anything else that would influence the judge?

Thanks

Doesn't help your case but this sounds like a "Get off my lawn" ticket. Folks who live on dead end streets and Cul-de-sacs think they own them.