Mini-Motorcycles are “Motor Vehicles” For Purposes of Statute Prohibiting Operation Under Suspension

In a recent criminal law matter, the Superior Court of Connecticut, Judicial District of Fairfield, Geographical Area 2 at Bridgeport considered whether a mini-motorcycle was a motor vehicle for purposes of General Statutes § 14-215, the state’s operation under suspension law.

This case arose from an incident that occurred on October 6, 2007. The defendant was previously convicted of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence (OMVUI) on March 20, 2007, and his license was suspended for one year. However, on the date in question, the defendant was driving a mini-motorcycle on a public highway in Fairfield. Because his license was still suspended, the defendant was charged with violating Chapter 248 § 14-215(c), which “prohibits a person whose license is under suspension from operating a motor vehicle.” The defendant moved to dismiss the charge, arguing that a mini-motorcycle was not a “motor vehicle” for purposes of the statute. He claimed that because § 14-215 refers to Chapter 246 § 14-1, which under subsection 50 explicitly excludes mini-motorcycles from its definition of “motor vehicle,” he was not operating a motor vehicle under suspension.

The court in State v. Knybel faced a nearly identical factual scenario and argument as those in the present case, and it engaged in a comprehensive discussion regarding competing definitions of “motor vehicle.” In essence, the Knybel court wrote that the definition used in Chapter 248 is broader so as to include all “vehicles” used within the various chapters of the General Statutes. Therefore, the Knybel court concluded “it is clear that the [more limited] definition of the term ‘motor vehicle’ in § 14-1,” which is found in a different chapter, does not apply to § 14-215(c).

With these principles in mind, the Superior Court rejected the defendant’s argument. The Court wrote that § 14-215 specifically defined “motor vehicle” to include “all vehicles used on the public highway.” Thus, the Court held that a mini-motorcycle is a motor vehicle for purposes of the operation under suspension statute, and denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss.

When faced with a charge of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated (a.k.a. driving under the influence) or operation under suspension, an individual is best served by consulting with an experienced criminal law practitioner. Should you have any questions regarding criminal defense, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya in the firm’s Westport office in Fairfield County at 203-221-3100 or at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.

Written by Lindsay E. Raber, Esq.