Flipping off a cop doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, especially if the person is on a bicycle. However, a situation in Pennsylvania led to a charge of Careless Driving when a man flipped off a cop while riding his bicycle in Westmoreland County. While this may seem extreme, a bicycle is treated as a vehicle in the state, and when the rider took his hands off the handlebars to initiate the hand gesture, the cop charged him with careless driving.
The defendant in this case, David Smith, argued the defense that the act of flipping off a cop is not a crime, which means he cannot be charged with Careless Driving. While it is true that the gesture is not always a crime, it can be considered as such if it is deemed to be obscene, and the person may be charged with Disorderly Conduct.
The real issue here is the need to recognize that bicycles are considered to be vehicles under state law, and riders should treat bicycles with the same respect and care. Laws regarding motorists include bicyclists too. For this particular bicyclist, the charge was Careless Driving because he removed his hand from the handlebar of the bike when making the gesture. At this point, he would be unable to stop or steer the bike, if necessary, to make a quick stop or change direction. Because he was riding in heavy traffic, the move was considered unsafe and careless. In other words, the officer felt Mr. Smith was placing others in danger when he used the hand gesture while riding his bicycle.
Bicycle Laws in Pennsylvania
Bicycles are treated the same as four-wheel vehicles in Pennsylvania. This means they are subject to the rules of the road, and the rider may be charged with the same charges as a driver of a car. For instance, a person riding a bike may receive a DUI if he or she is impaired by alcohol or drugs while riding a bicycle. An accident may occur as the person moves through traffic. Not only could the rider by injured, but a collision could result in injury to other persons.
Even though a cyclist does not need to have a license to ride a bike, they share the roadway with other drivers and must obey the same laws. If they fail to do so, under Pennsylvania law, they can be charged with the same offenses as an operator of any other vehicle. Bicyclists also face the same penalties if they are convicted of a moving violation. If you ride your bicycle regularly, you should be familiar with the laws of the road to ensure you follow all signs and laws while out riding. Learning how to legally operate your bicycle not only protects you and others who are out on the road with you, but it keeps you from breaking the law and receiving a ticket for your actions.
Do You Need an Edinboro Defense Attorney?
If you are charged with a crime, regardless of the severity of the crime, you should consult with an Edinboro defense attorney BEFORE you give a statement to the police. Exercise your right to remain silent except for asking for your attorney. Contact The Travis Law Firm toll-free at (800) 401-2066 to schedule a free legal consultation with one of our Edinboro defense attorneys.