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Road Rights- Class Dismissed

If you get a ticket while riding, here’s how to wipe your record clean

By: Bob Mionske


Whether you’re in a car or on a bike, the flash of police lights behind you is never a good sign. A traffic ticket—yes, it’s possible to get one while cycling—can cost several hundred dollars or more, and it’s virtually guaranteed to raise your auto-insurance­ rates. Rack up enough tickets and you could lose your driver’s license. It can even put a damper on your job prospects should an employer want to see your driving record. And if you are involved in a collision and get ticketed for violating a traffic law, you will be the at-fault party in the eyes of the driver’s insurance company—even if that person was also responsible for the crash.

One way drivers can avoid most of those consequences is to attend traffic school. Complete the program, and your insurance rates and driving record will remain unaffected. That’s not a bad deal, especially if you are guilty as charged.

Cyclists haven’t had access to a similar option for long—but it’s starting to catch on. Since 2007, for example, riders in Portland, ­Oregon, who have been ticketed for ­certain violations can attend a two-hour class, pay a small fee, and have the ticket­ dismissed. These programs are also sprouting up in ­cities in ­California, including Alameda, Santa Cruz, and Huntington Beach, as well as at universities in Davis and San Luis Obispo.­ On the East Coast, there’s a ­traffic school for cyclists in Manhattan, but it’s open only to riders who have committed certain minor violations, such as sidewalk riding. Running a red light or riding against traffic will still land you in court. Participants must also complete a day of community service.

If your town does not have such a program, see if you can start one (see “Get Schooled,” left). After all, there’s no reason cyclists should face a greater consequence for a traffic violation than a driver ticketed for the same offense.

Get Schooled
Want to start a ticket-forgiveness program for cyclists where you live? Here’s who to contact.

Your local advocacy group

It may already be working on developing a class. Offer to help out.

Municipal officials

­­Seek the approval of the court responsible for handling traffic violations. Also get buy-in from the police department and others in local government.

Cyclists Elsewhere

Talk to advocates in cities that already have a bicycle traffic school to find out how they got started.

Research and assistance by Rick Bernardi, J.D.

 

This article, Class Dismissed, was origially published on Bicycling on June 27, 2013.

Now read the fine print:
Bicycle and the Law, Bob MionskeBob Mionske is a former competitive cyclist who represented the U.S. at the 1988 Olympic games (where he finished fourth in the road race), the 1992 Olympics, as well as winning the 1990 national championship road race.
After retiring from racing in 1993, he coached the Saturn Professional Cycling team for one year before heading off to law school. Mionske's practice is now split between personal-injury work, representing professional athletes as an agent and other legal issues facing endurance athletes (traffic violations, contract, criminal charges, intellectual property, etc).
Mionske is also the author of Bicycling and the Law, designed to be the primary resource for cyclists to consult when faced with a legal question. It provides readers with the knowledge to avoid many legal problems in the first place, and informs them of their rights, their responsibilities, and what steps they can take if they do encounter a legal problem.
 
If you have a cycling-related legal question, please send it to mionskelaw@hotmail.com Bob will answer as many of these questions privately as he can. He will also select a few questions each week to answer in this column. General bicycle-accident advice can be found at www.bicyclelaw.com.
Important notice:
The information provided in the "Road Rights" column is not legal advice. The information provided on this public web site is provided solely for the general interest of the visitors to this web site. The information contained in the column applies to general principles of American jurisprudence and may not reflect current legal developments or statutory changes in the various jurisdictions and therefore should not be relied upon or interpreted as legal advice. Understand that reading the information contained in this column does not mean you have established an attorney-client relationship with attorney Bob Mionske. Readers of this column should not act upon any information contained in the web site without first seeking the advice of legal counsel.

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