Ticketed for Riding Bike

WSVN — When his license was suspended he needed to get to work, so he bought a bicycle and then he got five tickets from a police officer. Why? It’s why he called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

Johnny Gomez’s license was suspended for getting too many tickets, but he had to get to work so he bought this bicycle.

Johnny Gomez: “I don’t have to take the bus anymore so I got a bicycle to take me, you know, and that is why I got the bike.”

The bike has a small gas motor to make his 15 minute trip quick and convenient. At top speed he can go about 25 miles per hour. Nice, and then one day, he saw what will make every person hold their breath.

Johnny Gomez: “I saw the cop turn its lights on.”

The Miami-Dade officer was either really irritated with Johnny or having a really bad day.

Johnny Gomez: “‘Park it, you are going to jail! Give me your license now!’ But Ii said ‘What have I done? You know that it is illegal. I got 25 of these bikes and all 25 guys is in jail.'”

Johnny knows what to do when an officer is not happy with you. Shut up and sit down.

Johnny Gomez: “So I sat down, took off my book bag. I pulled out a cigarette and he never said anything about the cigarette.”

After sitting in his car for a few minutes, the Miami-Dade officer returned.

Johnny Gomez: “Really nice, really quite, really humble. ‘Mr. Gomez, here you go.”

But he was still really mad, which Johnny discovered as he handed him the papers.

Johnny Gomez: “One, two, three, four, five.”

Five tickets for no tag, driving on the wrong side of the road, for driving without a license, for not showing a drivers license and driving while his license was suspended.

Johnny Gomez: “Knowingly, I know my license is suspended, it’s revoked! That is why I’m riding a bicycle.”

The officer then pulled out his phone to show Johnny how many bikes he had taken and how many riders he had sent to jail.

Johnny Gomez: “He turned his phone and took a picture of the bike and then he scrolled through another picture. ‘Here the pictures of the bikes I have confiscated.'”

The officer then left. Johnny was fuming because he was about to be able to get his license to drive restored. Now with the charge of driving without a license, it will stay revoked for riding a bike and even worse.

Johnny Gomez: “It’s going to hurt me and my family because they’re going to put me in jail if they find me guilty of driving with a suspended license.”

Howard, five tickets for riding a bike with a small gas motor. Are the tickets correct?

Howard Finkelstein: “If the bike has a small electric motor, it’s a bike and you don’t need a license to drive it. But Johnny’s bike is gas powered and under Florida law, that makes it a moped or motorcycle and you have to have a tag and a drivers license to operate it.”

In court, the state attorneys office offered a deal. They would withhold adjudication if Johnny would accept six months probation, 50 hours of community service and a $250 fine.

Johnny won’t take the plea for a simple reason.

Johnny Gomez: “I’m not pleading guilty. I’m not guilty.”

Howard Finkelstein: “Since money is tight for Johnny, he needs to request a public defender. There is a risk in going to trial and there is a reward if he fights and wins. So he needs an attorney in court with him if he continues to fight.”

Johnny is taking a risk, a risk he likes.

Johnny Gomez: “I feel that I’m going to win this.”

Patrick Fraser: “Johnny doesn’t believe he should be punished for riding that bike and he is also worried taking that deal would stop him from getting his license back in a few months. Howard says since he was a habitual offender, it could block him from getting his license. On the other hand, a judge could send him to jail if he’s convicted. Johnny is in a tough spot because of what he thought was a harmless bike.

Pedaling fast and getting nowhere? Need to gas things up? Contact us. Hopefully when we turn on the bright TV lights you will be able to smile and say that’s the ticket.

With this Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser, 7News.

CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:

E-mail: helpmehoward@wsvn.com (please include your contact phone number when e-mailing)

Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com

Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN

Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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