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Tickets Issued at Virginia Beach Bike Classic

May 4, 2011 by  

The Virginia Beach Bike Classic was held this weekend at North Beach landing in Virginia Beach , Virginia . It was great to be there and see a lot of friends from Virginia and the Carolinas . However the event was marred by law enforcement. The Virginia State Police in conjunction with the Virginia Beach Police Department set up a few miles from the event and wrote tickets for offenses such as unapproved helmets, illegal exhausts, improperly mounted license plates, etc. It was reported at one point that they were refusing those without a “DOT Approved” helmet to proceed further and forced them to go back to the event a buy a new helmet.

If you or anyone that you know received such a ticket at the Virginia Beach Bike Classic please contact me and I will represent you at no charge. These charges are improper given the law in Virginia . For those in favor of mandatory helmet use this is not an attack on helmets. I respect the right of every motorcyclist to hold an opinion on this matter. However this is not about helmets, it is about ensuring that the police follow the law. If they are going to stop and charge people they should at least be familiar with the statutes under which they are charging them.

I also want to reiterate that I am not anti-law enforcement. As an ex police officer and an ex prosecuting attorney I have an extensive law enforcement background. However, to many times I see motorcyclists charged for not wearing a helmet approved by DOT when the law in Virginia does not require that a helmet be approved by anyone. I also see tickets for illegal exhausts merely because the officer does not like the sound of the exhaust. I have seen tickets for improperly mounted license plates merely because the license plate is mounted vertically instead of horizontally. Virginia law does not prohibit vertically mounted license plates. I have even seen a few handle bar height tickets when that law was repealed in 2003. You are not guilty of an offense simply because an officer says that you are. You are only guilty if you have violated a statute or ordinance. A great number of people charged at the Virginia Beach Bike Classic did not violate any state or local law.

That is why I think it is important to challenge these tickets even though they are non-moving violations. If we as motorcyclists merely pre-pay them because it is too much of a hassle to go to court and fight then we will continue to receive improperly issued tickets. So if you have received such a ticket please contact me and I will be happy to take the case(s) at no charge.

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

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Comments

3 Responses to “Tickets Issued at Virginia Beach Bike Classic”

  1. Hersey on May 7th, 2011 8:55 am

    From a reader:

    Matt, as law enforcement member for over 25 years, Blue Knight and avid motorcycle rider I need to have explained to me what I have missed. I read your post about the VA. Beach Bike Event and the ticket issue. I knew the handle bar law was repealed. I knew the code did not prohibit the vertical mounting of the plates. I was never sure about the pipes and never gave a ticket for them. But,,,,I’m confused about your statement that there is no regulation about a helmet needing to be approved by anyone in Virginia. Below is the statement I read in Virginia Biker’s and Va. Code # 46.2-910 If I’m reading this wrong please let me know. Thanks, Roger Briney

    “However, to many times I see motorcyclists charged for not wearing a helmet approved by DOT when the law in Virginia does not require that a helmet be approved by anyone.” I also see tickets for illegal exhausts merely because the officer does not like the sound of the exhaust. I have seen tickets for improperly mounted license plates merely because the license plate is mounted vertically instead of horizontally. Virginia law does not prohibit vertically mounted license plates. I have even seen a few handle bar height tickets when that law was repealed in 2003. You are not guilty of an offense simply because an officer says that you are. You are only guilty if you have violated a statute or ordinance. A great number of people charged at the Virginia Beach Bike Classic did not violate any state or local law.

    § 46.2-910. Motorcyclist to wear helmets, etc.; certain sales prohibited; penalty.

    A. Every person operating a motorcycle shall wear a face shield, safety glasses or goggles, or have his motorcycle equipped with safety glass or a windshield at all times while operating the vehicle, and operators and any passengers thereon shall wear protective helmets. Operators and passengers riding on motorcycles with wheels of eight inches or less in diameter or in three-wheeled motorcycles which have nonremovable roofs, windshields and enclosed bodies shall not be required to wear protective helmets. The windshields, face shields, glasses or goggles, and protective helmets required by this section shall meet or exceed the standards and specifications of the Snell Memorial Foundation, the American National Standards Institute, Inc., or the federal Department of Transportation. Failure to wear a face shield, safety glasses or goggles, or protective helmets shall not constitute negligence per se in any civil proceeding. The provisions of this section requiring the wearing of protective helmets shall not apply to operators of or passengers on motorcycles being operated (i) as part of an organized parade authorized by the Department of Transportation or the locality in which the parade is being conducted and escorted, accompanied, or participated in by law-enforcement officers of the jurisdiction wherein the parade is held and (ii) at speeds of no more than fifteen miles per hour.

  2. Matt Danielson on May 7th, 2011 9:21 am

    Below is my explanation. If you would ever want me to come out an talk to your chapter about laws affecting motorcyclists let me know. I travel up and down the east coast doing that.

    Section 46.2-910 of the Code of Virginia requires that every operator and passenger on a motorcycle being operated on the highways of Virginia (highways includes all areas open to the public for motor vehicle travel) must wear a protective helmet. The helmet must meet or exceed any one of three helmet standards; 1) Department of Transportation (DOT), 2) Snell Memorial Foundation, or 3) The American National Standards Institute (ANSI). That’s it. That is the totality of the requirements for a motorcycle helmet to meet Virginia code. Notice that the statute says that the helmet must meet or exceed any one of those standards. It does not say it must be approved by any of those entities, nor does the statute require that the helmet be marked, labeled, or certified by any of those entities. Therefore, the mere fact that your helmet does not have a sticker on it does not render it illegal, nor does it give an officer the right to pull you over or ticket you.

    In order to be convicted of a helmet offense (short of not wearing one at all) the state is going to have to show that your helmet does not meet or exceed each of the above standards, which differ from one another. That means that the officer will have to know and understand each of the above standards. The standards are performance standards; they are not a guideline on how to build a helmet. They concern how energy is dispersed in a crash. Not how it is built.

    What that means is that the state cannot prove its case. Often an officer will testify that he could tell that the helmet is illegal due to the weight of the helmet or the thickness of the liner. However, none of the three applicable standards dictate any certain weight for the helmet, nor do they require any particular thickness for the lining. They are silent on those issues. The standards focus on how the helmet distributes the force of an impact. There is only one way to determine that, and that is to have the helmet tested. There are three problems with that. The first is that there are no testing facilities in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The second is that the procedure necessitates destroying the helmet. The third is that the police do not have the right to take the helmet for testing in the first place without probable cause that it does not meet any of those three standards. Unless they know and understand those standards, the requisite probable cause does not exist.

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

  3. chuck on October 25th, 2011 10:29 pm

    Welcome to the police state. “There’s a motorcycle rally this weekend. Let’s show those bikers who’s boss…and make our ticket quotas for the entire month!”


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