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San Francisco DUI Attorney - “Pocket Bike” vs. Battery Operated Wheel Chair

 Posted on January 20, 2012 in DUI

People v. Varela , - Cal.Rptr.3d - -, 2011 WL 1126036 (Cal.App. 2 Dist.), 11 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 3771

CVC 415 defines a “ ‘motor vehicle’ [a]s a vehicle that is self-propelled."

CVC 473 defines a “ ‘pocket bike’ [a]s a two-wheeled motorized device that has a seat or saddle for the use of the rider, and that is not designed or manufactured for highway use."

“A ‘vehicle’ is a device by which any person or property may be propelled, moved, or drawn upon a highway, excepting a device moved exclusively by human power or used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks."

A pocket bike comes squarely within the definition of motor vehicle. To hold otherwise would require that we ignore the plain meaning of sections 415 and 670.

Varela argues that legislative history refers to a pocket bike as a “device" and not a vehicle. (Citing Sen. Transportation & Housing Com., Analysis of Assem. Bill No. 1051 (June 7, 2005); Sen. Rules Com., Analysis of Assem. Bill No. 1051 (June 30, 2005).) but there is nothing inconsistent about referring to a motor vehicle as a device.

Because a pocket bike falls squarely within the statutory definition of a motor vehicle, it is a motor vehicle as a matter of law."

State Of Minnesota v. Brown , - N.W.2d - -, 2011 WL 2302319 (Minn.App.)

The Minnesota appellate court determined that a wheelchair used to assist a physically disabled person is simply a substitute device for walking, and as such does not constitute a vehicle, despite the statutory definition to the contrary:

"It is plain that for purposes of traffic regulations contained in Chapter 169, Brown's scooter is a wheelchair and is not a motor vehicle, and Brown, who uses the scooter as a substitute for walking, is, while operating his scooter, a pedestrian. See Boschee v. Duevel , 530 N.W.2d 834, 839 (Minn.App.1995)

(“[T]he mere circumstance, that [a person]... propels himself or herself along by means of a chair, or by some other mechanical device, does not clothe him or her, in a broad and general
sense, with any other character than that of a pedestrian.").

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