Location: Kansas

Kansas DUI Offenders Can Now Legally Drive Motorized Bicycles

A new Kansas law will allow drivers with a suspended license (due to DUI, multiple unpaid tickets, or other issues) to obtain a special license that would allow them to operate a motorized bicycle.

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback recently signed into law Kansas Senate Bill 60, which would, among other provisions, allows “the issuance of class C licenses for the operation of a motorized bicycle to certain persons with suspended or revoked drivers’ licenses”.

Here’s how Kansas.com explains it:

Senate Bill 60 also includes a Wichita judge’s idea for giving motorists with suspended licenses a way to get around without driving.

The provision allows drivers with a single DUI or multiple suspensions for unpaid tickets or other issues to obtain a special license that would allow them to operate what the law calls “motorized bicycles.”

The main problem is that many people whose licenses are suspended still need to get to work, and in parts of the state without public transit, have no choice but to risk driving without a license, said Sedgwick County District Court Judge Phil Journey.

Journey proposed the provision when he was a state senator and who testified in support of it this year.

The problem is especially acute for low-income workers who lose their license because they can’t afford to pay a fine. They get caught multiple times and the penalties keep escalating, Journey said.

It’s costly for them and for taxpayers, who have to pay for multiple prosecutions and in some cases, jail time, Journey said.

The definition of a motorized bicycle includes mopeds and scooters of less than 50 cubic centimeters of engine displacement, less than 3.5 horsepower and automatic shifting. Such bikes usually weigh 180-200 pounds and can only go about 30-35 mph.

“The odds of getting hurt by someone on a moped are pretty slim,” Journey said.

Are Motorized Bicycles Street-Legal in Kansas?Certainly, a motorized bicycle is capable of causing less harm than an automobile.

But is it really a good idea to give someone a license to drive any motorized vehicle after they’ve been convicted of a DUI and their regular driver’s license has been suspended?

Why not just skip the “motorized” headaches (and licensing, and registration), and ride a regular pedal bicycle, which requires no license or registration, costs far less to purchase, operate, and maintain, and is much better for the health of the rider and the community at large?

Very strange…

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About The Author

By Randy Rasa, editor/webmaster at Kansas Cyclist, the web’s premier Kansas cycling information site, featuring authoritative guides to Kansas cycling clubs, bike shops, organized bike rides, touring, trails, and much more. [learn more]

6 responses to “Kansas DUI Offenders Can Now Legally Drive Motorized Bicycles”

  1. Jet says:

    People make mistakes and not everyone can ride a bike due to previous injury, level of fitness or over all health. Prohibiting someone from getting to work, loosing their job, or keeping them from getting a job is just forcing the person to commit worse and more crimes. I would add a speed limit restriction and limit them from being around a school zone during hours where kids are coming and going to school for junior high and down.

  2. KillMoto says:

    I’m conflicted by this – who wants drunks piloting a motorized vehicle of any sort? Concurrently, those who of their own preference choose to ride motorized bikes will be assumed by all to be DUI convicts.

    That said, if it provides a relief valve for the department of motor vehicles and/or a judge to revoke the license of a DUI or reckless driver, then I’m all for it. How many pedestrians & cyclists have been killed by DUI repeat offenders who got back behind the wheel? I don’t know the answer, but one is too many

  3. Randy Rasa says:

    I appreciate the comments. I was kind of conflicted about this as well. I wrote this up awhile back, and held onto it, hoping my thinking would clarify, but it never quite did, so I went ahead and posted it.

    It’s an interesting issue. As Jet said, not everyone is capable of riding a bike, for a multitude of reasons, and a motorized bicycle might be a reasonable compromise in those cases.

    The judge’s statement that convicted DUI offenders “have no choice but to risk driving without a license” kind of rubbed me the wrong way, though. I think that’s very seldom literally true…

  4. KillMoto says:

    Again I have no statistics, but I’d guess that a lot of people who get their license suspended do indeed simply drive without a license.

    Over time this can be largely prevented if licenses had “smart card” chips. Like the ones the military use to log on to computers. Or like the chip I use to activate the washer and dryer in my basement (meaning: if it’s used in washing machines, it must be cheap).

    If a car requires a smart-chip enabled license to start the car (plus the key, to indicate ownership, etc.), then the license can carry with it restrictions, such as juvenile/provisional license curfews, or license suspensions.

    It’s time we start using 20th century technology to protect users on our 21st century roads.

  5. Eric Struckhoff says:

    “The judge’s statement that convicted DUI offenders “have no choice but to risk driving without a license” kind of rubbed me the wrong way, though.”

    Gaaaah! I feel the same way. The correct answer is: “You should have thought about that before you went out and got yourself a DUI.” And that should be the answer to every person who states that offenders have “no choice.” They do have a choice. And they’ve made it. It’s then up to judges to make remind us that if you make the wrong choice, you may have difficulty getting to work, and therefore paying the mortgage or the grocery bill. Sound serious? It is.

    So tired of excuses of all kinds provided on behalf of bad drivers.

  6. Stacie Parks says:

    Geez! If you read the provision, it says a single DUI, not a repeat offender. Take the time to look up what the legal limit is and you’ll see a beer or two or one shot of whisky puts someone over the limit.
    Everyone, at one point in time, has made a mistake. Don’t judge to harshly.
    If I ever get a DUI and need to go to work, you bet I’m driving to get there. We have no public transportation and I sure wouldn’t lose my job when I have fines to pay. Only a fool would want me to quit work and stay at home.
    Thank you Gov. Brownback, great decision! Now if I do get my first DUI I can motorize away. 🙂