By DAVID FISCHER
Associated Press Writer
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. --
Flying down the highway at 120 mph and popping a wheelie could soon
cost a motorcycle rider more than a fine. It could cost him his
Riders charged with reckless driving or exceeding the speed limit
by 50 mph could be arrested and have their bikes seized under a bill
filed in the Florida House and discussed Thursday. Riders later
convicted of those offenses could lose their motorcycle licenses for
The state needs to send a tough message to motorcyclists who
drive recklessly on the highway, said Rep. Carlos Lopez-Cantera,
R-Miami, the sponsor of the bill (HB 137).
"It's not just the riders putting themselves in danger," he said.
"They're also putting other motorists in danger. They're riding
In 2006, the Florida Highway Patrol investigated 119 deaths
caused by motorcycles in urban areas. That doesn't include fatal
crashes investigated by local authorities. All but 10 of those
deaths involved careless or reckless driving at up to three times
the posted speed limits.
Florida's chapter of American Bikers Aiming Toward Education
(ABATE) objects to the proposed law. The idea of taking away
someone's motorcycle, selling it and giving the money to law
enforcement is ridiculous, said James "Doc" Reichenbach, the group's
"We're not saying there isn't a problem, but this isn't a problem
that is going to go away by taking away someone's motorcycle,"
Reichenbach said. He then added, "(And that's) if they catch them.
They can't catch them now."
Lopez-Cantera acknowledged the difficulty in chasing down a
motorcycle going 120 mph or faster. But law enforcement officers can
set up stings and follow bikers in helicopters or unmarked cars
until they stop, he said.
Members of the House's Committee on Infrastructure on Thursday
decided to postpone passing the bill out of their committee,
however, until they can adress concerns about the severity of the
punishments in it.
Rep. Gary Aubuchon, R-Cape Coral, the committee's vice chair,
said he'd like to see a system where penalties become progressively
more severe after repeat offenses, instead of taking a person's
motorcycle the first time.
Reckless motorcyclists are a problem in South Florida, but it's
not the case everywhere, said Rep. Jimmy Patronis, R-Panama City.
It's unfair to place such strict laws on all riders when only a
relatively small group in one part of the state is a problem, he
Members of the committee agreed to take a closer look at the
legislation and to work with motorcycle groups and others on the
problem of speeding and reckless driving.