Even though the General Assembly has not officially adjourned, all of the bills which we have been tracking have either passed or failed. The most significant piece of legislation for motorcyclists is SB 1038 which, among other things, changes the licensing structure for motorcyclists in the Commonwealth. The bills which have passed will become law as of July 1st this year. Let’s take a look at how all of these bills faired.
This is the bill that was introduced by Delegate Ed Scott at the request of Harley Davidson. It has passed with an amendment which was worked out between Harley-Davidson, VCOM and the DMV. It changes the criteria for the types of motorcycles which may be used in the Virginia Rider Training Program. The criteria will now mirror the MSF standards; this being what most states use. However, as amended and passed, this bill gives the program authority to reject a motorcycle that meets the criteria but is deemed to be an unsafe motorcycle for training purposes. Being that motorcycle safety begins with training and education, we feel that giving the program greater authority over which types of motorcycles may be used to train new riders is a smart move. You can view the bill here: http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?131+ful+HB1476ER
This bill was introduced by Delegate Roxanne Robinson at the request of VCOM and made a part of HB 1476 above. It clarifies that the criteria for training program motorcycles apply to every motorcycle used and not just a single motorcycle.
This bill, which for the most part was aimed at mopeds, was introduced by Senator Newman, Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee. It was passed even though HB 1984, which was a mirror bill in the House, failed.
This bill provides for the titling and registration of mopeds and distinctive license plates for low-speed vehicles. It also requires a moped operator to carry government-issued photo identification and wear a face shield, safety glasses, or goggles if his moped is not equipped with safety glass or a windshield. It further requires moped riders to wear helmets.
As for its application to motorcycles, this bill changes the current licensing structure and adopts three classes of motorcycle licenses which will be M3, M2 and M. M3 will be restricted to the operation of a three wheeled motorcycle and will be issued to those who test on a three wheeler or take the trike/sidecar course. M2 will be restricted to the operation of two wheeled motorcycles and issued to those who test on a two wheeled motorcycle or take the basic rider course. M will allow riders to operate either a two wheeled motorcycle or a three wheeled motorcycle. If a rider currently holds an M classification then they WILL NOT have to take a new exam or get re-licensed. Current holders of an M endorsement are grandfathered. The new law only affects those who obtain a license after the law goes into effect on July 1st of this year. However, when you renew your license, you will be asked to self-certify whether you have experience on two wheels, three wheels or both. Let your conscience be your guide. You can view the bill here: http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?131+ful+SB1038H1
This bill, which has passed, concerns DMV customer service and impacts motorcycles in two ways. The first thing that this bill does concerns temporary motorcycle endorsements. Under current law, if you take the DMV approved course or, while stationed outside of the Commonwealth, take a motorcycle course approved by the United States Armed Services, your completion card is your motorcycle endorsement for 30 days in order to give you time to get a permanent license at DMV. No further testing is required. In part, this bill amends the Code to allow for the certificate of completion from any course approved by the United States Armed Services, be it within or without the Commonwealth, to do the same. You must be a military member, spouse or dependent.
The second thing that this bill does, while not specifically aimed at the military, is correct an issue which impacts many military members. Under current law, if you want to stop your motor vehicle insurance while not using your vehicle, you need to cancel your registration and turn in your tag to DMV. If you don’t, your license will be suspended for having a non-insured motor vehicle. Additionally, when you get new insurance it will most likely be high-risk. In order to re-register your motor vehicle you need to go back to the DMV and have it registered. Imagine what a pain that is for a military member who is being deployed long term and does not wish to continue paying insurance.
As of July 1st of this year you will now have a method to deactivate your registration. This will be able to be done online. When you wish to re-activate you simply pay a $10.00 fee. It is also envisioned that this will be able to be done online. Now if you are deployed you can simply go online and deactivate your registration. You can then cancel your insurance. When you return you re-activate. This will also be helpful to those motorcyclists who do not ride during the winter (You know who you are). You can view the bill here: http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?131+ful+SB1218ER
This bill would have allowed motorcycle riders in Virginia to choose whether or not to wear a helmet. Currently 31 states give adult riders that choice. There were enough votes in both the House and Senate to pass this bill. That being said, there is a difference between having enough votes and having the right votes. The bill was sent to an unfriendly committee and an even more unfriendly sub-committee where it was “laid on the table” and left in sub-committee with no further action being taken. That effectively kills the bill for this year.
That concludes the wrap up of this year’s legislation. Later in the year I will post information about this year’s legislative round table where motorcyclists will gather to decide upon the legislative agenda which VCOM will pursue in 2014. The round table usually takes place in August. Additionally, “Bikes on the Border” is being held March 15th & 16th at South of the Border. This will be an informational gathering of motorcyclists from Virginia and the Carolinas. For more information on that you can go to motorcyclelawgroup.com.
As always if you have any questions or comments concerning anything that I have written, please feel free to contact me.
McGrath & Danielson
Tom McGrath’s Motorcycle Law Group