With tens of thousands of motorcyclists ready to descend on Daytona Beach for the 70th annual Daytona Beach Bike Week, the law regarding vertical tags is again at the forefront.
Are vertical tags legal in Florida? The short answer is yes and no and the long answer is complicated and depends on who you talk to.
And to make it worse, there’s some argument whether the fine is $60 or $1000 for a first time offender.
Yes, there is a fine because out of state motorcycle tourists running a vertical tag will not be legal in Florida.
In 2009, Florida’s Governor signed legislation intended to clear up the misunderstanding about vertical tags. That legislation removed the vertical tag prohibition from motorcycles.
But, the misunderstanding and the legality of vertical tags in Florida lingers on, and enforcement of the statute is hit and miss across the state.
Lee Nelson, a motorcyclist from the area said “I hate to say it, but it is also rather amusing that, after two weeks of research, the President of ABATE of Florida with input from the Dept. of Safety and Motor Vehicles, the law office of the ABATE Legal Counsel, and motorcycle rights champion Senator Greg Evers, there is no clear and definitive answer about what the Florida Tag Law is in 2011.”
A spokesman with the Troop of the Florida State Patrol responsible for Daytona Beach and the surrounding counties told USRiderNews that motorcycle owners can run a vertical tag as long as they maintain a prepaid toll account in good standing and a transponder associated with the prepaid toll account is affixed to the motorcycle or moped.(Excerpt from Fl 316.2085(3) )
Which has the effect of discriminating against out of state motorcycle owners who are, in all probability, not going to have a “toll pass.” However, that same officer didn’t know the exact amount of the fine.
Lt. Robert Asbill of the Florida Highway Patrol said, “I’m not 100% sure what the fine is, I thought it was $1000. I could’ve swore it was $1000 in the last update the legislature sent.”
Lt. Asbill confirmed that anyone who has a vertical tag without the “toll pass” transponder attached to their motorcycle will be subject to an enforcement action from a Highway Patrol Officer.
By attaching the wording that the motorcycle must have a toll transponder, Florida Legislators made it easy for law enforcement officers to target out of state tourists because it will be much easier for a patrol officer to determine, by observation of the tag, which motorcyclist is most likely in violation of the statute.
That differs from the stance taken by the city of Daytona Beach. A spokesperson with the Daytona Beach Police traffic unit, Sgt Haller, left a voice mail message saying that “vertical tags are no longer a violation.” That message gave the indication that Daytona Beach police, at least the motorcycle traffic officers, do not intend to stop and inspect motorcycles to determine if a “toll-pass” transponder is attached.
What does all this mean for those owners of custom bikes with vertical tags?
If you’re from Florida and you have a toll pass transponder on your bike you’re 100% legal. If you’re from Florida and don’t have a toll pass you can probably skate by without being stopped because absent of some other reason to stop you, the odds are good that law enforcement won’t stop you to check for the transponder.
But, if you’re from out of state and have a vertical tag, you’re a sitting duck for the Highway Patrol and any other law enforcement officer. By having an out of state vertical tag you have provided probable cause to be stopped for no other reason than to inspect your bike to see if you have a toll transponder.
After that, whatever violation or evidence uncovered is, in all probability, admissible in court.
To read the entire statue concerning tag display in Florida Click here,