This is one of those topics that I never seem to actually get to the bottom of.
This article says aye! And that’s according to an almost direct quotation from Arizona MVD spokesperson:
“But 68 bicyclists have had points assessed to their driver’s licenses in the past five years in the state. Most of those points were gained from people running stop signs, said Cydney DeModica, state Motor Vehicle Division public information officer”
— Lawbreaking Bicyclists Fact Tickets in Tempe The Arizona Republic, January 28, 2002
This counselor says nay! And he’s a staff counsel, also of MVD (the whole email is reproduced below in the comments section)!
ARS 28-3306(A) states “The department may suspend or revoke the license of a driver or require a licensee ….” The critical word is driver which is defined as “a person that drives or is in actual physical control of a vehicle.” and the vehicle definition excludes devices moved by human power” This eliminates bicycles and pedestrians from the point system.
[ed note: The bicyclist applicability statute, 28-812, specifically makes bicyclists “subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle”. However, it only applies to chapters 3,4, and 5. The statute mentioned above, 28-3306, is in Chapter 8; and therefore can’t apply to bicyclists in any case. In other words, I’m agreeing with him for perhaps a different reason: under that statute MVD has no authority to suspend or revoke anyone’s drivers license for offenses committed while operating a bicycle]
Whom to believe? I tend to believe that it is possible, albeit unlikely (68 in FIVE years!), to get points assessed against your driver’s license for an infraction committed on a bicycle. Which is odd, since a license is not required.
Note that in City of Tempe, from the Bicycle Diversion Class (a page that is now obsolete): “Failure to complete the bicycle diversion class AT LEAST THREE DAYS PRIOR to your court date may result in . . .possible drivers license suspension” Implying that points are levied. Though that is an old page; the current page doesn’t say that anymore, it was changed sometime in 2010.
Point System, and the AAC
The “point system”, as it were, is set forth in the Arizona Administrative Code Title 17, Article 4 ( R17-4-404. Driver Point System). In the table of penalties, it states “Any other traffic regulation that governs a vehicle moving under its own power.” The “nay” argument takes this to mean that bicyclists (and pedestrians by the way) would be excluded. I tend to think that could be just an administrative glitch, or of no consequence to the question at hand. The administrative code is not law, it is just a bunch of rules supposedly drawn up under the auspices of enabling legislation. Also to the contrary of the “nay”: elsewhere in the table of the penalties, failure to comply with red traffic-control signal (for example) says nothing about vehicles or moving under their own power.
Defensive Driving Classes
Motorists who get a ticket can get one ticket (once every 24 months) dismissed; they can pay a fee, and complete an approx 4 hr class (nowadays, it can be done entirely online). As things turn out, it ends up costing virtually the same amount as pleaing responsible (or being found responsible) — so why do it? Simple answer: points. By having the ticket dismissed there are no license points and no potential for, say, insurance rates to be increased because of them. What if a bicyclist got a ticket and wanted to attend defensive driving class to get the ticket dismissed?
28-3392. Defensive driving school; eligibility… A. A court: 1. Shall allow an individual who is issued a citation for a civil traffic moving violation… to attend a defensive driving school
The enabling statute seems crystal clear; Yes. Bicyclists are individuals. And that this statute appears in Chapter 8 is not limiting. There is, however, some contorted logic that says that because points can’t be assigned to bicyclists (the “vehicle moving under its own power” in the AAC, above); therefore for some reason, bicyclists aren’t eligible for DDP. I’m not buying it, but there you have it. And all of that aside — if a bicycle diversion program is available; they tend to be much cheaper than DDP.
The Court Abstract
The key to actually understanding all this would be understand the procedures used by the courts and MVD. Courts transmit something called a “Court Abstract” to MVD for each and every reportable violation. The court abstract form had no place on it to specify what the infractor was driving or riding; it just lists things like name, DL number, date, citation number, statute, etc. (here is the blank Court Abstract form; if that doesn’t work just search adot mvd forms).
The enabling statue for the court records requirement is 28-1559; It is in chapter 5 (and thus could apply to bicyclists); there is, unfortunately, nothing obvious that would rule out its application bicyclists, there are hints, however, e.g. among the laundry list of information that must be transmitted from the court to MVD is “The registration number of the vehicle involved”; bicycles don’t have registration numbers (that’s the state-issued license plate required of and found on motor vehicles).
There is more discussion of the Court Abstract at so-youve-killed-somebody-with-your-car-now-what?. At that link there is a very long and detailed document about how MVD handles court abstracts. In particular, there is an exhaustive list of statutes and the number of points associated with each. One thing is for sure, the “bicycle only” statutes, that is to say statutes that apply only to riders of bicycles, e.g. 28-815B riding more than two abreast, all carry zero points.
LAWBREAKING BICYCLISTS FACE TICKETS IN TEMPE
Arizona Republic, The (Phoenix, AZ)-January 28, 2002
Author: Senta Scarborough, The Arizona Republic
Arizona State University student Nicole Skillen could not believe that she almost got a ticket for riding her bike on the wrong side of the sidewalk.
“It is terribly unfair,” said Skillen, who shares the attitude of many that treating bicycling and automobile offenses the same is ridiculous.
But state law doesn’t agree. Some Tempe residents and ASU students may have learned that lesson last week after ASU Department of Public Safety and Tempe police officers gave warnings, wrote tickets and distributed bicycle safety information at the ASU main campus.
The project, sponsored by a grant from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, was targeted in part to educate bike commuters of the dangers and penalties of breaking local and state traffic laws.
But a bike diversion program being organized by Tempe police and courts and the ASU police may give Tempe bicyclists who are caught violating the traffic laws a break.
The court-ordered program would allow bike violators to attend a bicycle class for $51 to avoid steep fines and have their case dismissed. A ticket for a city violation costs $111, and for a state violation is $145 at Tempe City Court and a $90 fine at county justice courts.
For several years, ASU police offered the bike diversion program, but it ended eight months ago because of a lack of staff, ASU Police Chief John Pickens said.
ASU officers will teach the new course, which focuses on bicycle safety and laws, as part of their regular duties. The class is expected to start in early spring, Sgt. Allen Clark said.
“We are trying to prevent someone from being injured, and if we save only one life then it is all well worth it,” Pickens said.
Ninety-three bicyclists ticketed for traffic violations missed their chance to take the class as of mid-January, according to Tempe Municipal Court data.
East Tempe Justice Court Judge John Ore, who used the bike diversion program, said the class offers him “an excellent tool from the bench” to promote education.
“It is very good for the city and for the bicyclists,” said Gerri Mattern, Tempe prosecutor. “It think it is good because it will prevent accidents.”
Last year, three people died in bicycle-car collisions, and four died in 2000 in Tempe, Tempe police Sgt. Don Yennie said.
With ASU’s large bicycling commuter population, Tempe Municipal Court typically has a greater number of bicycle violations compared with other Valley cities, said Rick Rager, Tempe Municipal Court deputy manager.
And police say bicyclists are more vulnerable, especially on the roads where they most compete with cars and trucks. Safety measures such as helmets, reflectors and lights don’t replace paying attention and using common sense while bicycling, police warn.
In Maricopa County in 2000, 21 people were killed and 1,363 injured in 1,568 collisions involving cars and bicycles, go-peds, scooters and skateboards, according to ADOT data.
The bicyclist is most likely at fault in accidents, Yennie said. In Tempe, bike riders are the responsible party in crashes 65 percent of the time, according to city transportation data.
“Bicyclists just don’t have that kind of protection,” Yennie said. “When a car is in an accident with a bike, the bicyclist is the loser no matter who is right or who is at fault.”
ASU freshman Lindsey Burcell said she was glad police were enforcing the law.
“I think they feel like they have more rights riding a bicycle and that they have the right of way,” Burcell said.
And ASU freshman Mark Crumrine, a regular bike rider, admitted he didn’t know the laws concerning bicycles.
Police say people often aren’t aware that a moving violation such as running a red light or stop sign while bicycling could gain them the same points assessed to their driver’s license or against a future license as if they were driving an automobile.
“I would think hardly anybody realizes that they are subject to the same rules that apply to motor vehicles and the same penalties,” Yennie said.
But 68 bicyclists have had points assessed to their driver’s licenses in the past five years in the state. Most of those points were gained from people running stop signs, said Cydney DeModica, state Motor Vehicle Division public information officer.
State law doesn’t distinguish between a moving violation committed in a car or on a bike.
These offenders can attend any of the numerous state-regulated defensive-driving schools to avoid possible higher insurance rates.
“The biggest thing about bicycle safety is that is it grossly overlooked because people think it is a joke,” Ore said. “Police officers who cite for bicycle violations can almost count on verbal abuse. They think nobody enforces this.”
CAPTION: Tempe police Sgt. Don Yennie talks to some riders near Arisona State CAPTION: University about bicycle safety issues.
Edition: Final Chaser
Section: Valley & State
Record Number: pho62555868
Copyright (c) The Arizona Republic. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Gannett Co., Inc. by NewsBank, inc.