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Monthly Archives: March 2014

Virginia Coalition of Motorcyclists: 2014 Virginia General Assembly Wrap Up

There’s 3 items of interest: new category of motorcycle- autocycles, the wearing of masks for warmth is legal now, and the blame for on-coming left-hand turn accidents.

2014 Virginia General Assembly Wrap Up
March 13, 2014

The regular session of the Virginia General Assembly has concluded. We can of course expect a special session so that the two chambers can continue to fight over the budget and the impasse over Medicaid expansion. However, as that is a topic not specific to motorcycles or motorcyclists, I will not wade into those waters.

Motorcyclists had a pretty good year in 2014. The Virginia Coalition of Motorcyclists (VCOM) had three main issues going into this session, two of which have become law which will go into effect as of July 1st, 2014. If this were baseball we would be batting .667 and would qualify for the hall of fame. Yes Mr. O’Reilly that is called spin.

This year Virginia will get a new classification of motor vehicle called an autocycle. Both HB 122 and its Senate companion SB 383 have been signed by the Governor. Under this new law, an autocycle is defined as a three-wheeled motor vehicle that has a steering wheel, seating that does not require the operator to straddle or sit astride, and is manufactured to comply with federal safety requirements for motorcycles. The code also specifies that unless otherwise provided, an autocycle shall not be deemed to be a motorcycle. The reason for this legislation was the rise in popularity of three-wheeled cars such as the T-Rex and Elio which until now have been considered motorcycles due to having three wheels. The manufacturers of these vehicles do not want them to be considered automobiles because they would then have to meet the federal safety standards for automobiles. We motorcyclists do not want them to be motorcycles because they will unfairly distort our crash statistics. VCOM worked with Tanom, a company in Virginia which manufactures such vehicles, and with several state governmental agencies to create this new classification. This new classification satisfies all parties. Autocycles only have to meet the federal safety requirements for motorcycles so the manufactures are happy. Likewise, when these three wheeled cars are involved in a crash which results in an injury or fatality, they will not be considered motorcycle injuries or fatalities. I do not mean to sound indifferent about any injury or fatality, but the reality is that much of the laws that we see restricting motorcyclists are driven by crash data. If the government is going to use such data to pass laws aimed at us, we should demand that the data at least be accurate.

If you would like to read the full bill as enacted you may do so at the following link:

http://lis.virginia.g…­

The second bill to be signed by the Governor is HB 542 which concerns wearing masks in public. It is a felony to wear a mask in public in the Commonwealth of Virginia except under certain circumstances. This has historically been problematic for motorcyclists in Virginia who utilize cold weather gear, or who use a bandana to protect themselves from dust or sun. Many were being pulled over and told to remove the protective coverings. The code section now makes it clear that it is only a crime in Virginia to wear a mask in public with the intent to conceal one’s identity. Covering one’s face for the purpose of staying warm or to protect one’s self from the elements will no longer put a motorcyclist at risk of facing prosecution.

If you would like to read the full bill as enacted you may do so at the following link:

http://lis.virginia.g…­

Unfortunately, our third issue, which would have made it reckless driving to kill another motorist while committing a right of way violation, was defeated by the House Courts of Justice Committee. Despite support from motorcyclists across Virginia, the Committee defeated the measure on a 9-13 vote. Those who opposed the measure did so due to the fact that the bill made a traffic infraction a criminal offense without any change in the intent of the offender. We argued that the court would still have the power to find the offender guilty of a simple infraction if the evidence supported such a finding. We further explained that the main purposes of the bill was to force those who kill others on Virginia highways to come to court to answer for the charges, and to give courts more power to deal with such offenders appropriately. Despite our best efforts the measure failed. At least for now.

VCOM will continue to monitor issues affecting motorcyclists in the Commonwealth. If you have any concerns about such an issue please feel free to contact me. Additionally, if you wish to support VCOM you may join and become a supporter at vcomonline.org

Matt Danielson
McGrath & Danielson
Tom McGrath’s Motorcycle Law Group
1-800-321-8968
Motorcyclelawgroup.com

Virginia Coalition of Motorcyclists

Our mailing address is:
2606-2608 West Cary Street
Richmond, VA 23220
1- 800-437-9434

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Posted by on March 18, 2014 in Motorcycling

 

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