CAN I DRIVE MY MOPED WITH A SUSPENDED LICENSE? CAN I DRIVE MY MOPED AFTER DRINKING ALCOHOL?
At least since the case of Commonwealth v. Griswold, 17 Mass. App. Ct. 461 (1984), it is settled law that an operator of a motorized bicycle or moped can be prosecuted for operating under the influence of liquor, in violation of Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90, section 24 (1) (a). This is so even though the OUI statute only applies to “motor vehicles,” and even though “motor vehicles” is defined as to include motorcycles but not motorized bicycles. The reason is that G.L. c. 90, section 1B makes operators of motorized bicycles “subject to the traffic laws and regulations of the Commonwealth.”
But in the recent case of Commonwealth v. Lopez, the Massachusetts Appeals Court held that an operator of a motorized bicycle cannot be prosecuted for violating G.L. c. 90, § 23, which criminalizes operating a motor vehicle while under driver’s license suspension. The reason is that there are specific (and more lenient) punishment provisions within G.L. c. 90, § 1B. Said statute provides for relatively small monetary fines in lieu of any jail sentence, even for subsequent offenses, in cases involving operation of a motorized bicycle with a suspended license.
The take away is that you cannot drink and then operate a motorized bicycle on a public way with impunity, but that you cannot be charged with operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license if you ride a motorized bicycle while your license is suspended (although you can be prosecuted under a different statute).
Perhaps next, the courts will rule specifically on the issue of whether a person who is caught driving a motorized bicycle while their license is suspended for OUI can be prosecuted? Operation of a motor vehicle while under license suspension for OUI carries mandatory jail time, and persons with licenses recently suspended for OUI might have cause to try to resort to driving a motorized bicycle. Based on the caselaw, it seems likely that an individual could indeed be prosecuted in such a scenario.
 G.L. c. 90, § 1 defines “motorized bicycle”, by reference to maximum speed and engine size, among other things.
Attorney Kevin D. Quinlan
The Law Office of Kevin D. Quinlan
2 South Main Street, Suite 201
P.O. Box 248
Uxbridge, MA 01569