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Does anyone out there have experience with traffic stops where the defendant was riding a bike?
I have two cases where a defendant was riding his bike and violated some traffic offense that is normally associated with cars, like failing to stop at a stop sign. Of course, a search later discovers cocaine.

My question is, do you all have any luck with these kinds of stops? Have you ever had them suppressed or had a grand jury no bill them?

I see from very limited case law that the stop is lawful, I'm just wondering from a practical standpoint what the challenges are, if any, in this kind of a case. Thanks.


Steve Lilley
 
Posts: 67 | Location: Sulphur Springs, TX | Registered: April 14, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I can't answer the very pragmatic question but I will observe that there can't be a whole lot more humbling as a driver than when a bicycle officer pulls over the car for running a red light or other traffic violations. It is something that used to happen fairly frequently in Fort Worth right outside the courthouses where there are a series of lights. It was worth watching the driver's surprise when, as he waited at the next light, the officer tapped on the window!
 
Posts: 444 | Location: Austin, Texas, USA | Registered: January 06, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I have dealt with one of these in a misdemeanor context. D blew a stop sign on his bike, officer tries to stop him for it, D runs into his house, Officer recognizes D and realizes he has a warrant, officer tries to arrest D and he resists. Whole encounter predicated on the initial traffic stop of the bicycle.

As a misdemeanor it was filed by information and complaint, not indictment. I found that the most effective way to explain the stop to the defense attorney was with the yellow "Texas Driver's Handbook" that DPS puts out. Section 13-1 says "A bicyclist should always obey all traffic laws, signs, and signals." The defense attorney backed down from a motion to suppress, and the defendant pled.

I actually use the Handbook quite a bit. It's not the official code, but it goes a long way to invalidating a defendant's cries of "How was I supposed to know *THAT*?" The handbook has a number of helpful diagrams and explanations for common traffic infractions that lead to probable cause for stops. the diagrams on improper wide right hand turns and right of way are especially useful.

I like using the handbook more than the code sections because it's so accessible. Anyone can walk into a drivers license office and pick up a copy of the handbook for free. The code, of course, establishes the legal basis for prosecution, but the handbook shows just how the defendant should have known what the law was. It might be useful to show a reluctant grand jury.

(Of course, having spent three years as a bike commuter in Washington, DC I almost never stopped at stop signs. Momentum is the key to all avoidance techniques on a bicycle, and coming to a dead stop makes you very vulnerable. The one time I was hit by a car was when I was sitting still and couldn't get out of their way.)
 
Posts: 394 | Location: Waco, Tx | Registered: July 24, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Bicycle is included in the definition of types of vehicles in the Transportation Code. Sec.541.201(2). And the specific offenses generally refer only to "a vehicle", not a motor vehicle or anything more specific. So there's no reason why the statutes wouldn't apply equally to bicycles as cars.
 
Posts: 1111 | Location: Waxahachie | Registered: December 09, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Section 551.101 states that "a person operating a bicycle has the rights and duties applicable to a driver operating a vehicle under this subtitle, unless: (1) a provision of this chapter alters a right or duty; or (2) a right or duty applicable to a driver operating a vehicle cannot by its nature apply to a person operating a bicycle.

The statute also provides that a parent or guardian of a child cannot knowingly permit the child to violate Subtitle C, Transporation Code.

So I think the stop of the bicycle operator for failing to comply with a traffic signal is valid.

Janette A
 
Posts: 674 | Location: Austin, Texas, United States | Registered: March 28, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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We tried a bicycle case similar to yours a couple of months ago. Bicyclist was seen at a known crack house, "blew" through a stop sign, and then dropped the crack on the ground right before the officer pulled him over. Jury had no problem with the stop, found the defendant guilty in 15 minutes and assessed a two year state jail term in 13 minutes!
 
Posts: 146 | Location: Vernon, Texas | Registered: February 02, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I routinely stop bicyclists at night for operating without a headlight, I actually had my first one a few weeks ago that DIDN'T have a warrant Wink
 
Posts: 95 | Location: Marble Falls, TX USA | Registered: October 29, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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OK - I commute to the courthouse by bike (carrying my garment back and briefcase on the back). My dad taught me decades ago to signal, ride on my side, and abide by all the traffic laws, and I do. Twice I have nearly been T-boned by an officer running a stop sign.

I think you will have trouble selecting a jury. My experience with motorists is that they want a cyclist in the gutter with the broken glass - even when turning left off a road with a turn lane. THey do not understand the part of the regs that gives us the same rights and responsibilites as a motorist.

At least you rarely catch a cyclist talking on a cell phone in a school zone! Roll Eyes

Lisa L. Peterson
Nolan County Attorney
 
Posts: 736 | Location: Sweetwater TX | Registered: January 30, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I was stopped and ticketed by a UT police officer for running a stop sign on my bicycle on campus. I never doubted that the stop was good, although I was a little peeved. (If it had been a speeding ticket, I would have framed it and hung it on the wall!)
 
Posts: 245 | Location: Austin, Texas | Registered: July 08, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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We handle a lot of these in narcotics too, as you can already see the trend. There are some areas of town where bicycles (not cyclists) are the primary mode of transportation. Even worse, handling stops for walking on the wrong side of the road. Again, usually occurs in areas where there are no sidewalks nor road shoulder so there is a more legitimate safety concern. For both types of stops, communicating that biking and walking are more common than auto-related traffic issues is key for a jury to accept that this wasn't just chicken you-know-what. Although, in these same (urban) areas of town, you will find chickens freely roaming the streets/yards.
 
Posts: 73 | Location: Richmond, TX | Registered: January 06, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I wonder how many people know that when they walk on a roadway that lacks sidewalks, that they "shall, if possible, walk on" the left side of the roadway or the should of the highway facing oncoming traffic" (TTCA 551.006(b))? It flies the face of the idea that you move with the flow of traffic (motor vehicles and bicycles), but makes sense when you consider that a pedestrian is safer if the pedestrian can jump for safety.

Janette A
 
Posts: 674 | Location: Austin, Texas, United States | Registered: March 28, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Seems to me that I learned "walk on the left facing traffic" and "cyclists follow all traffic rules" in elementary school....

Thankfully, most of my jury pool is close to my age!!

Lisa L. Peterson
Nolan County Attorney
 
Posts: 736 | Location: Sweetwater TX | Registered: January 30, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Yeah, I always learned that a bicycle is a vehicle and should drive on the same side as the cars, but as a pedestrian you face oncoming traffic so you know when you have to move!
 
Posts: 1111 | Location: Waxahachie | Registered: December 09, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Maybe they only used to teach that in elementary schools.. because we walked and rode bikes every single day from 2 to 5th grade and were very aware that those were the rules. Dont' really remember my mom telling me, or how we knew, but we knew!

And as a prosecutor in my old days in Boerne, we had cyclists all the time and there was always a battle on those country roads when cyclists would be three or four across and not let cars by...anyways, a cyclist was given a ticket in town for impeding traffic and was not too happy. Basically, the officer made it clear that had the cyclist been an old jalopy truck that had traffic backed up like this cyclist did, he would have gotten a ticket then, too. It was some interesting plea negotiations but he finally realized the rules of the road apply to him as well as protect him. Man, I DO NOT miss JP court! Smile

[This message was edited by suzannejostwest on 05-18-10 at .]
 
Posts: 514 | Location: Del Rio, Texas | Registered: April 17, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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As a cyclist for more than 25 years, there is specific reason we ride 3 and 4 across while on some back roads: if there is not a decent shoulder to ride on, and we ride single file, cars do pass extremely close....and if you've ever ridden a bike or motorcycle and had vehicles pass close, then you are familiar with what is called the Bernoulli effect. The vehicle moves air to is side...and as the vehicle passes to the left of the cyclist, this air pushes the cyclist to the right...once the vehicle passes, and that "push" is gone, there is a "pull" on the bike that pulls us back to the left, where we are struck by the next vehicle....

Not to mention that too many red neck cowboys love to "tap" cyclist with their passenger side view mirrors...

Most cyclist are happy to move over and let cars pass when its SAFE for us to move over and be passed....

[This message was edited by Forensicscientist on 05-18-10 at .]
 
Posts: 69 | Location: Ft. Worth, Texas | Registered: October 15, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Recall the original content of this thread was about stopping a cat on a bicycle and finding his stash. I don't get the feeling we are talking about serious cyclists drafting down country roads on $1,000+ bikes. I mean, where would they hide it?

Wait a minute! Is that what the little hollow in the seat is for? Man, I never knew. Clever, fella's, very clever.
 
Posts: 73 | Location: Richmond, TX | Registered: January 06, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Cats smoke dope?
 
Posts: 1243 | Location: houston, texas, u.s.a. | Registered: October 19, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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This forum provides quite an "edumacation."
 
Posts: 444 | Location: Austin, Texas, USA | Registered: January 06, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Actually - the seat on my bike is a small compartment for keys and such. It is large enough that I have the magnetic key for the courthouse, office key, bug repellant wipes and the extra lenses for my glasses. Were I so inclined, drugs could easily be carried there.

Lisa L. Peterson
Nolan County Attorney
 
Posts: 736 | Location: Sweetwater TX | Registered: January 30, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Ms. Peterson, I am very impressed. My car died and I tried to ride a bike for a semester of law school in SA and between traffic and the really heavy load of books in my backpack, I just started mooching rides.
 
Posts: 514 | Location: Del Rio, Texas | Registered: April 17, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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