It is illegal for a habitual traffic offender to drive a vehicle in Jacksonville, but what is considered a vehicle for the purpose of the Florida habitual traffic offender law? The definition for motor vehicle can be found in Florida Statute Section 322.01(27). This Florida traffic law states:
“Motor vehicle” means any self-propelled vehicle, including a motor vehicle combination, not operated upon rails or guideway, excluding vehicles moved solely by human power, motorized wheelchairs, and motorized bicycles as defined in s. 316.003.
There have been several Florida habitual traffic offender cases in which appellate courts needed to determine whether or not a vehicle would be considered a motor vehicle for the purpose of driving on a suspended or revoked license in Florida. In Manchado v. State, the Fourth District Court of Appeals was presented with this issue. In this habitual traffic offender case, the trial court granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss the charge of driving on a suspended or revoked license as a habitual traffic offender, because the judge found that the vehicle that Mandchado was driving was not considered a motor vehicle according to the definition set forth above. The Florida appellate court disagreed with the lower court. The Defendant, through his attorney, argued the following:
“Manchado claimed that the mini pocket motorcycle had ‘an engine displacement that does not exceed 50 cubic centimeters’ and ‘a top speed that does not exceed 30 miles per hours on level ground.’ Thus, it was not a motor vehicle within the meaning of section 322.01 , and he was not required to have a driver’s license while operating it.” State v. Manchado, 968 So. 2d 115, 116 (Fla. 4th DCA 2007)
The court looked to the definition of motor vehicle in Florida Statute Section 322.01(27) and found, “The vehicle at issue falls within the definition of a motor vehicle in chapter 322 as it is self-propelled, not operated upon rails or guideway, and does not fall within any of the exclusions as it is not moved solely by human power nor is it a motorized wheelchair.” Id. at 116. There is an exception to this rule for motorized bicycles. According to Section 316.003(2), “A motorized bicycle by definition is not capable of exceeding a speed of twenty miles per hour.” In Manchado’s Florida habitual traffic offender case, it was “alleged that the vehicle could not exceed thirty miles per hour.” The record does not show whether or not the motorbike could exceed 20 miles per hour. “Because the vehicle is self-propelled and not excluded from the definition of a motor vehicle, Manchado was required to have a license in order to operate it. The court erred in granting the motion to dismiss.” Id. at 116-17.
As a Jacksonville drivers license lawyer, I have met many people with suspended Florida drivers licenses due to being habitual traffic offenders. Many were surprised to know that they did not need to continue driving on a suspended license. They were able to obtain valid drivers licenses. If your license has been suspended as a habitual offender, do not continue to drive. It will only make things worse. Your Jacksonville drivers license lawyer may be able to fix the problem. Call 20 Miles Law at (904) 564-2525 to speak with a Jacksonville attorney about your drivers license suspension.