Posted on April 17, 2019 in Personal Injury
Learning how to pop a wheelie on a bicycle is a right of
passage for many American kids, but attempting the same stunt on a motorcycle
is much more difficult and vastly more dangerous. Recently, a Florida man died after popping a wheelie on his
motorcycle. Another driver hit him because the driver
could not see the motorcycle’s headlight as the wheelie made it point into the
air. The vehicle driver suffered minor injuries, but the 36-year-old
motorcyclist died from his injuries at a nearby hospital. Every rider should
understand the dangers and potential legal penalties for attempting wheelies on
Legal Status of Popping a Wheelie
Only a few states have specific laws against wheelies on
motorcycles. However, this does not mean that popping a wheelie is legal in
states without laws explicitly forbidding the maneuver. In Florida, a wheelie
could lead to a $1,000 fine. Florida law does not expressly
forbid wheelies, but it does require all motor vehicle drivers to keep their
wheels on the pavement.
A first offense in Florida would be the $1,000 fine. A
second offense will lead to a $2,500 fine and the offender will likely face a
driver’s license suspension. A third offense would be a third-degree felony,
leading to up to five years in prison, mandatory driver’s license suspension
for up to ten years, and fines up to $5,000.
Every state may not have laws explicitly outlawing wheelies,
but police officers generally have authority to use personal discretion when
issuing citations or conducting arrests for reckless and/or dangerous driving.
Popping a wheelie not only significantly increases the chances of a rider
losing control of his or her bike, but also impedes visibility for both the
rider and the other drivers around the rider.
Potential Legal Consequences for Popping Wheelies
In addition to criminal penalties for violating state laws
for reckless driving, a motorcyclist who pops a wheelie could face additional
legal penalties if the act results in an accident and damages to other drivers.
It is vital for all motorcyclists to remember that they have far less
protection in an accident than a driver in an enclosed car. Motorcycles do not
have safety belts, airbags, or other safety features found in cars. They also afford
very little protection from crash forces, typically sending riders sprawling
upon contact with an object or another vehicle.
A rider who engages in dangerous behavior on the road may
incur civil liability for causing injuries and other damages, and he or she may
also face limitations when it comes to securing compensation for personal
losses. A rider who causes an accident by popping a wheelie or engaging in
other reckless actions would likely have no legal recourse to secure
compensation for his or her own injuries and economic losses. Such an event
would also likely lead to higher insurance premiums and leave the rider on the
hook for medical expenses and other losses.
Legal Counsel for Motorcycle Accidents
Anyone who suffers injuries due to a motorcyclist popping a wheelie should consult with a motorcycle accident attorney about options for legal recourse. Reckless driving is a leading cause of serious accidents in the U.S., and drivers and motorcyclists who fail to abide by the rules of the road endanger everyone around them. Such drivers may face civil lawsuits from victims and also criminal charges from the state, potentially losing the right to drive and facing severe legal penalties like thousands of dollars in fines and years in jail.
Drivers should know the procedure for reporting dangerous
behavior on the road. If you witness a motorcycle popping a wheelie or any
other driver engaging in reckless behavior on the road, reporting the issue to
the police can help prevent the dangerous driver from injuring others. Take
note of the vehicle’s make, model, color, and direction of travel, then pull
over somewhere safe and call the police to relay this information. Doing so may
potentially stop a serious accident before it occurs.