From Our friend Rogue
Like many areas of the country Florida’s Legislature is in session. That means there will be a lot of new laws proposed and passed.
I try to pay attention to these proposed laws and how they will affect, motorcyclist, friends, family and me personally. I also try to let others know so that they can look at these proposed laws to see how they will affect them. There will always be different opinions and rightfully so and everyone should look at the pros and cons of each issue.
Any law that is passed will affect all of us in one way or another at some time in our lives so serious consideration should be given to all of them.
I have talked with many legislators through the years about legislation and do not remember a time when I was not asked “What will be the financial impact on the state” That means will this legislation cost the state money or will it make the state money!
There are many people that believe fines are just another form of taxation. There are the sin taxes for tobacco and alcohol and then traffic tax usually referred to as a fine for violation a rule while operating a vehicle. Technically what ever these things are called it is the government taking your money. Some of the reasons are justified and some very questionable at least.
Once the government has this money the question is what they do with it. Okay they spend it but on what?
In 2008 the State of Florida increased the fee for a motorcycle license by $2.00 saying the money would go to motorcycle safety and awareness. Now there was already money in the licensing fee for that and I for one never got a good explanation how that was being spent.
In the beginning of 2009 this money was taken and used for other things to try and balance the state budget. I should note that this is not the first time that money set aside for this type of thing was taken and used for things other than designated.
There are numerous laws pending this year that will affect motorcycle riders in Florida. Information is available on these laws from the State of Florida, the American Motorcycle Association and ABATE as well as numerous other sources.
One of the laws that I am particularly interested in is
Florida House Bill 875, sponsored by rep. Greg Evers (R-Milton) and Senate Bill 1918, sponsored by Sen. Dave Aronberg (D-Fort Meyers) would enhance penalties for those who commit a moving violation that causes serious bodily injury or death to a person operating or riding in/or a motor vehicle or motorcycle. For causing serious bodily injury, the bill calls for a fine of not less than $500, a minimum of 30 days incarceration, a mandatory driver improvement course and revocation of the offender’s driver’s license for not less than 30 days. In those cases resulting in death, the bills seek a fine of not less than $1,000, a minimum of 90 days incarceration, mandatory attendance in an advanced driver improvement course and revocation of the offender’s driver’s license for not less than 1 year.
When first reading the above it sounded pretty good until I read it a couple of more times. The first thing I noticed was that it did not state mandatory incarceration but did for driver’s improvement. That should be easily correctable.
Then I realized that there was no mention of the victim and or their family receiving anything. The money from fines would be going to the state. It just does not sound right to me that the State of Florida should benefit from the injury and or death of victims.
I will be contacting my elected officials and request they try and have these bill changed so that the money from fines goes to the victims and or their families in case of death.
This could happen directly from the court proceedings or the money goes to a victims fund and people apply to it for assistance. I would also request that a stipulation be added that these funds can not be used for other purposes.
Hopefully those that agree with my suggestions will also contact your legislators and voice their opinion on this pending legislation.
If you do not know who your legislator is go to American Motorcycle Association web site at http://www.amadirectlink.com/legisltn/rapidresponse.asp
There is another bill SB 328 by Senator Dockery that deals with texting while driving that I am sure most people will want to support
Motor Vehicle Operators/Text Messaging: Prohibits a person from writing or sending a text message on a electronic communications device while operating a motor vehicle. It provides for enforcement, exceptions and penalties.
No matter what your feelings on these bills and others are it is important that everyone takes the time to contact their legislators and let them know. Do Not Let Others Speak For You!
Sturgis Freedom Fighters
Motorcycle Hall Of Fame Member 2005