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  1. #1
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    Apr 2011
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    Default Illegal Flashing Light on Bike and No ID

    My question involves a traffic ticket from the state of: California.

    My husband and I were stopped by the sheriff's department while riding our bicycles. We pulled off to the side, got off our bikes and sat on the curb like the deputy asked. He asked for ID and we said we did not have it on us. He said since a "bicycle" is a vehicle, we needed to have ID on us while riding a bike.

    He then said the reason he stopped us was because my husband's rear light was flashing. The bike light, which came with the bicycle, has a small flashing red light in the back for riding at night. The deputy said that no vehicles, which includes bicycles, can have a flashing red light. We said that we did not know this.

    The deputy then asked if he can search us. Of course, my husband said that he will not consent to any search. Well.. after 30 minutes of waiting for a dog to come by and sniff us, he let us go.. each with a ticket.

    I got a ticket for CVC 12951 - "Lic Not in Poss"

    My husband got a ticket for two thing: CVC 12951 - "Lic not in Poss" and CVC 25250 - "Illegal Flashing Light"

    He then said right before leaving, it is a good thing he was letting us off with only a ticket and not arresting us because we "failed to provide ID"

    So.. do any of this tickets hold water?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    27,204

    Default Re: Illegal Flashing Light on Bike and No Id

    so far, I cannot find any requirement for having your license in your possession. If that were the case, would that mean that anybody without a motor vehicle operator's license could not ride a bicycle? It's not making a lot of sense to me.

    from definitions in the Ca vehicle code
    415. (a) A "motor vehicle" is a vehicle that is self-propelled.
    (b) "Motor vehicle" does not include a self-propelled wheelchair,
    motorized tricycle, or motorized quadricycle, if operated by a person
    who, by reason of physical disability, is otherwise unable to move
    about as a pedestrian.
    (c) For purposes of Chapter 6 (commencing with Section 3000) of
    Division 2, "motor vehicle" includes a recreational vehicle as that
    term is defined in subdivision (a) of Section 18010 of the Health and
    Safety Code, but does not include a truck camper.

    12951. (a) The licensee shall have the valid driver's license
    issued to him or her in his or her immediate possession at all times
    when driving a motor vehicle upon a highway.
    Any charge under this subdivision shall be dismissed when the
    person charged produces in court a driver's license duly issued to
    that person and valid at the time of his or her arrest, except that
    upon a third or subsequent charge the court in its discretion may
    dismiss the charge. When a temporary, interim, or duplicate driver's
    license is produced in court, the charge shall not be dismissed
    unless the court has been furnished proof by the Department of Motor
    Vehicles that the temporary, interim, or duplicate license was issued
    prior to the arrest, that the driving privilege and license had not
    been suspended or revoked, and that the person was eligible for the
    temporary, interim, or duplicate license.
    (b) The driver of a motor vehicle shall present his or her license
    for examination upon demand of a peace officer enforcing the
    provisions of this code.
    statute not applicable as a bicycle is not a motor vehicle as defined in the CVC

    from definitions in the Ca vehicle code:

    670. A "vehicle" is a device by which any person or property may be
    propelled, moved, or drawn upon a highway, excepting a device moved
    exclusively by human power
    or used exclusively upon stationary rails
    or tracks.
    25250. Flashing lights are prohibited on vehicles except as
    otherwise permitted.
    so, again, not applicable because a bicycle is not a vehicle as defined in the Ca VC.

    In the code, a bicycle is defined as:

    231. A bicycle is a device upon which any person may ride,
    propelled exclusively by human power through a belt, chain, or gears,
    and having one or more wheels. Persons riding bicycles are subject
    to the provisions of this code specified in Sections 21200 and
    21200.5.
    I can find nothing that would prevent the use of the light your husband has on his bicycle.

    So, from what I can see, not only are the tickets invalid but the detention itself was illegal and was compounded by detaining you while a drug dog was brought to the scene.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Illegal Flashing Light on Bike and No Id

    I'll agree with JK with regards to the validity of the 12951 citation. A bicycle is neither a "vehicle" nor is it a "motorized vehicle" and as such, there is not requirement for a rider to have a license in his/her possession.

    As for the 25250, I suspect that it may be legit in light of the provisions listed under VC 21200 which states:

    21200. (a) A person riding a bicycle or operating a pedicab upon a highway has all the rights and is subject to all the provisions applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this division, including, but not limited to, provisions concerning driving under the influence of alcoholic beverages or drugs, and by Division 10 (commencing with Section 20000), Section 27400, Division 16.7 (commencing with Section 39000), Division 17 (commencing with Section 40000.1), and Division 18 (commencing with Section 42000), except those provisions which by their very nature can have no application.


    You can read the other bicycle related code sections here and you'll see that while riding a bicycle may require a rear facing RED reflector be installed, it does not mention a "flashing red light". Since 25250 would apply (by virtue of the language of VC 21200) I don't see how that part of the citation would be invalid.

    If my analogy is correct, that tends to justify the stop. Whether the 30 or so minute detention could be justified may depend on what the officer can articulate as the probable cause for the search and the wait for a police dog. But even if that cannot be justified, since there was nothing found as a result of the search (i.e. nothing to suppress), it does not negate the validity of the 25250 citation.

    You can also read CVC 40500 for other/alternative methods of identification if/when the person who is subject to having a citation being issued does not have valid ID in his/her possession:

    (Its too long to quote in tis entirety, so I will only post the pertinent paragraph)

    CVC 40500(a) ... If the arrestee does not have a driver's license or other satisfactory evidence of identity in his or her possession, the officer may require the arrestee to place a right thumbprint, or a left thumbprint or fingerprint if the person has a missing or disfigured right thumb, on the notice to appear. Except for law enforcement purposes relating to the identity of the arrestee, no person or entity may sell, give away, allow the distribution of, include in a database, or create a database with, this print...


    Now, had you refused to identify yourself (and it doesn't sound like you refused), then yes, you could have been arrested (or should I say "detained/taken in") until your identity can be determined/confirmed.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Illegal Flashing Light on Bike and No Id

    Quote Quoting StacieJeffin
    View Post
    My husband and I were stopped by the sheriff's department while riding our bicycles. We pulled off to the side, got off our bikes and sat on the curb like the deputy asked. He asked for ID and we said we did not have it on us. He said since a "bicycle" is a vehicle, we needed to have ID on us while riding a bike.
    There is no legal requirement to possess ID when riding a bicycle. Unfortunately, deputies rarely enforce the Vehicle Code as they tend to rely on the CHP in unincorporated areas. When I worked for a Sheriff' Department I never wrote a single citation in two years ... I knew that some things were unlawful, but used this only as reason to detain.

    He then said the reason he stopped us was because my husband's rear light was flashing. The bike light, which came with the bicycle, has a small flashing red light in the back for riding at night. The deputy said that no vehicles, which includes bicycles, can have a flashing red light. We said that we did not know this.
    While an argument can be made that the flashing red lights are prohibited pursuant to CVC 25250 per CVC 21200, an argument can also be made that the red lights are warning of a hazard which is permissible per 25250.

    I don't know any officers that would cite for such a thing, though they might want to stop someone of interest using that as a reason. But, cite? No.

    The deputy then asked if he can search us. Of course, my husband said that he will not consent to any search. Well.. after 30 minutes of waiting for a dog to come by and sniff us, he let us go.. each with a ticket.
    Sounds like it was pretty close to an unlawful detention due to the length being prolonged longer than necessary. Though, if the officer wanted to be a true pill, he could have hooked you up for not having verifiable ID when he issued a citation.

    I got a ticket for CVC 12951 - "Lic Not in Poss"
    You will prevail at court on that one. As previously pointed out, it does not apply.

    My husband got a ticket for two thing: CVC 12951 - "Lic not in Poss" and CVC 25250 - "Illegal Flashing Light"
    The latter might be good, but the former will be easy to beat.

    He then said right before leaving, it is a good thing he was letting us off with only a ticket and not arresting us because we "failed to provide ID"
    Well, had he wanted to be a jerk he could have made a custodial arrest as you did not have good ID when he intended to issue a citation (CVC 40302(a)).

    This is why deputies shouldn't enforce the CVC unless they truly know what they are doing.

    As a note, cops look for people riding bikes at night - particularly after 10 PM. People riding bikes late at night tend to be up to no good. We refer to them as "bicycle felonies" as they are often out for one or more of three things: (1) Looking to buy dope, (2) Looking to ell dope, or, (3) Looking to steal something to buy dope. Very often these folks are holding dope and are on probation ... sometimes, not. And, sometimes, they tend to be John Q. Citizen, but late night bike rides by the honest citizen tend to be rare things, indeed.
    A Nor Cal Cop Sergeant

    "Make mine a double mocha ...
    And a croissant!"


    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Illegal Flashing Light on Bike and No Id

    Quote Quoting That Guy
    View Post

    As for the 25250, I suspect that it may be legit in light of the provisions listed under VC 21200 which states:

    21200. (a) A person riding a bicycle or operating a pedicab upon a highway has all the rights and is subject to all the provisions applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this division, including, but not limited to, provisions concerning driving under the influence of alcoholic beverages or drugs, and by Division 10 (commencing with Section 20000), Section 27400, Division 16.7 (commencing with Section 39000), Division 17 (commencing with Section 40000.1), and Division 18 (commencing with Section 42000), except those provisions which by their very nature can have no application.

    25250 (div 12) and 21200 (div 11) are not within the same division. As such, 21200 cannot include 25250 unless it or the division it is contained within (div 12), is specifically listed as being included as the other divisions (10, 16.7, 17, and 18) are. As such, it is not applicable to bicycles.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Illegal Flashing Light on Bike and No Id

    Quote Quoting jk
    View Post
    25250 (div 12) and 21200 (div 11) are not within the same division. As such, 21200 cannot include 25250 unless it or the division it is contained within (div 12), is specifically listed as being included as the other divisions (10, 16.7, 17, and 18) are. As such, it is not applicable to bicycles.
    Good point. That would tend to mean that neither of the code sections cited should be applicable at all.
    A Nor Cal Cop Sergeant

    "Make mine a double mocha ...
    And a croissant!"


    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Illegal Flashing Light on Bike and No Id

    Quote Quoting jk
    View Post
    25250 (div 12) and 21200 (div 11) are not within the same division. As such, 21200 cannot include 25250 unless it or the division it is contained within (div 12), is specifically listed as being included as the other divisions (10, 16.7, 17, and 18) are. As such, it is not applicable to bicycles.
    Good point indeed assuming you choose to added the emphasis to the "by this division" phrase. My point is that the emphasis should be added upon the "by this division (division 11) including, but not limited to DUIs and divisions 10, 16.7, 17 and 18".

    Which means there is no limitation on including provisions under division 12 (or any other provisions from any other division for that matter), so long as those provisions are not inapplicable by their very nature.

    It'll be interesting to find out how the judge/commissioner will decide this one. Hopefully StacieJeffin will give us an update when all is said and done!

  8. #8
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    Apr 2011
    Location
    Los Angeles, CA
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    Default Re: Illegal Flashing Light on Bike and No Id

    I am sure the deputy was looking for drugs, but both my husband and I were wearing helmets, wearing biking gear and riding $2000, 28 speed bicycles (we do bike rides and racing on occasion)... wont not think an druggie would be dressed as such.

    I am sure my husband ticked off the deputy with the remark about not consenting to a search and probably was the deciding factor in us getting a ticket... maybe we could have got off with a warning instead.

    If it is illegal to have a flashing red light as a bike light, then why are they being sold?

    Since it sounds like all of this was an "unlawful detention", can I file a complaint? My brother said to just go down to the station with my ID and they will sign off on the ticket, but probably have to pay $10 or around there.

    So.. should my husband fight the ticket? Sounds like he should. 37 years old and is first ticket ever!

    We have to appear by 5/16/11.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Illegal Flashing Light on Bike and No Id

    Hey, I didn't write the law. I'm just accepting what the California legislators wrote. They specifically wrote "this division". Barring further court interpretation, you must take it at face value.


    21200. (a) A person riding a bicycle or operating a pedicab upon a highway has all the rights and is subject to all the provisions applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this division, including, but not limited to, provisions concerning driving under the influence of alcoholic beverages or drugs, and by Division 10 (commencing with Section 20000), Section 27400, Division 16.7 (commencing with Section 39000), Division 17 (commencing with Section 40000.1), and Division 18 (commencing with Section 42000), except those provisions which by their very nature can have no application.
    so, you have to take it like this:


    21200. (a) A person riding a bicycle or operating a pedicab upon a highway has all the rights and is subject to all the provisions applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this division, including, but not limited to, provisions concerning driving under the influence of alcoholic beverages or drugs
    that is the main section. In that, it refers to "this division". Since it is in division 11 and there is no reference to any other division, it can refer to div 11 only. It merely specifically included provisions of DUI, which are also within div 11.

    Then, in the following section:

    and by Division 10 (commencing with Section 20000), Section 27400, Division 16.7 (commencing with Section 39000), Division 17 (commencing with Section 40000.1), and Division 18 (commencing with Section 42000), except those provisions which by their very nature can have no application.
    this is the section that refers to divisions other than "this division" which is div 11. No mention of div 12 anywhere in there.

    therefore, there is no way to include a section in div 12 based upon the application of that section.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Illegal Flashing Light on Bike and No Id

    Hmm..... ??? I will have my husband read what you wrote, since I can not figure that out..

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