Prohibiting Federal Funds for Motorcycle Only Checkpoints

Jeff Hennie, the Vice President in Charge of Governmental Relations and Public Affairs for the Motorcycle Riders Foundation, published an alert concerning a bill being introduced by Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner that would prohibit the use of federal funding for motorcycle only checkpoints.

Motorcyclist’s rights organizations and many independent motorcyclists oppose motorcycle only checkpoints as a discriminatory practice that unfairly singles out motorcycles as posing some special danger. This is despite the fact that the latest census numbers show that motorcycles make up only 4.7 % of all crashes in which there is injury or death.

We have no objection with safety checkpoints as a whole.  The objection we have is stopping only motorcycles.  There is simply no justification for this practice.  For one, motorcycle only checkpoints tend not to be fruitful.  An example is the large checkpoint that was set up during Rolling Thunder a few years ago.  Those conducting the checkpoint stopped 579 motorcycles over a period of seven hours and managed to write only 11 tickets.  This and the discriminatory aspect of these checkpoints is what has led some states such as North Carolina and Virginia to prohibit these checkpoints within their borders.  That being said, motorcyclists travel across state lines so this legislation is important to all motorcyclists regardless of what their particular state does.

Our position is that we support safety checkpoints for all vehicles.  If I am on my bike and there is a safety checkpoint stopping all motorists than I will gladly cooperate and subject myself to the brief detention connected with such a stop.  What I object to is being singled out from the motoring population as a whole due to the fact that I operate a motorcycle.

You may read Jeff Hennie’s alert below.  If you believe that motorcycle only checkpoints are a discriminatory practice which should not be conducted with federal funds than please contact your congressional representative and urge him or her to become an original cosponsor of this legislation.

As always, if you have any questions or comments about anything that I have written please feel free to contact me.

Matt Danielson
McGrath & Danielson
Tom McGrath’s Motorcycle Law Group

The Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF) reports, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner from Wisconsin, announced Monday, April 15th that he will file a bill to prohibit the federal funding of motorcycle only roadside checkpoints.

Sensenbrenner had this to say in a “Dear Colleague” that is circulating in the House of Representatives. “In the 112th Congress, I introduced H.R. 904, a bill to prohibit the Department of Transportation (DOT) from providing funds to state and local authorities for the purpose of creating motorcycle only checkpoints. Section 1 of the Stop Motorcycle Checkpoint Funding Act contains the same language as H.R. 904. However, this bill also contains language to force the DOT to focus motorcycle safety efforts on crash prevention programs, not national helmet mandates.”

The bill will officially be introduced on May 6, 2013 and get its official bill number then. However, we must start the push now. It’s important to contact your sitting member of the House of Representatives and ask them to be an original cosponsor of this important legislation. Ask them to contact Congressman James Sensenbrenner and lend their support. An “Original Cosponsor” is someone who supports the bill before it is made public and is a way to strongly support a new bill.

The more original cosponsors the better. You can contact the US Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121