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Ask Our Lawyer - February 2009

Q: If an ABATE member donates the use of his/her property for an ABATE function and we cover the property with a Certificate of Insurance; should someone leave the party intoxicated (adult or unknown minor) and is involved in an accident resulting in injury or death, is that home owner covered or not?
Kim Tyger, ABATE of Indiana
A. Usually the ABATE member would have coverage under his home owner policy for personal social events. The standard coverage for ABATE events should provide additional coverage for the ABATE member if that member is listed as an additional insured under the ABATE policy. Without the ABATE policy, there may be difficulties under the home owners policy, since an argument may be made that the event is a business enterprise. This may present a problem for coverage under some insurance policies. I would advise that member to confirm coverage with the insurance company providing the home owners policy. Certain exceptions may exist for charitable events and volunteer activities. We should tread carefully – we do not want our member’s homes and assets needlessly exposed to the claims of others.


Q: Rod, Some time ago I was given a wallet card by an ABATE member in Illinois. It was a printed statement to give to a police officer in the event of being stopped. Unfortunately the card got wet and unreadable. I would like to get another copy or can I make one myself if I could find the proper wording. I looked in some of your archived articles, but didn't find it. Can you help? I appreciate your work for bikers rights and fair play. Keep up the good work. Larry Krusemark- A.B.A.T.E. of Illinois Member
A: Thanks for the suggestions. We are going to be printing up new ones and will
circulate them to the membership.

Q: I am just aghast after reading your story re: Dan Benning and John Westren. I am neither a “biker” (although I've been looking into it lately), Harley owner (although I live in Milwaukee WI, home of Harley, and, as of late, I've been looking into becoming a Harley owner), and a lawyer. However, I am just beginning to fight a “bogus” and unfair and BS traffic citation I was issued by local officers. I am tired of the “guilty until proven innocent” attitude of our police system, the “bogus” and “skewed-against-the-citizen” nature of our TAXPAYER PAID justice system, and the absolute disregard for the owners of America, the citizens. I have filed extremely detailed complaints against the officers and have met with their Sergeant for over two hours...of course, to no avail. Although a pleasant conversation, final productivity was NOT an outpouring of this meeting. I have read that officers complained against, even if the complaint goes so far as to the Police Commission, almost NEVER are sanctioned or even “hand-slapped” in any way. Again, I am aghast at the story of two riders becoming "cause-and-effect" victims of a tar truck's negligence and then becoming victims of the justice system...all the while, the tar truck driver and tar company are off "scot free" and nowhere to be found. I have just one question for you...can one fight “city hall?”
Paul Mangan-Wisconsin
A: Paul – Yes we can fight “city hall.” Although Dan and John did not completely win their fight against city hall, they FOUGHT and were able to retain their CDL licenses without points. If enough of us are willing to take on “city hall” or help those that do, we will be just fine. If all of us pitch in and share knowledge and information about a fight with city hall, the more effective the battle. Knowledge is power. Please send me the names of the officers with issues and I will circulate the names in our organization to see if others have had problems with them. I remember, painfully, a time when my youngest son was stopped for alleged speeding by the gendarmes of a nearby village. My son and his roommates were returning from school. The car was packed, and the cops business must have been slow – or he had other ideas of profitmaking. In any event, the cop requested a search of the vehicle, which was granted by my son. After about 30 minutes of going through all of their possessions, the cop found nothing and sent them on their way without any speeding ticket or other charges. But shortly after, one of my son’s roommates discovered that $300 was missing from his backpack. Interestingly, the cop made the boys stay in the car while he searched the trunk. Good work if you can get it. I regret to this day that I did not send a letter to the mayor of that village for his eyes only. And I remember to this day the name of this cop. Although we could not say we saw him pocket the money, we could say it was missing after his search. The mayor would have a letter on file making book on this officer so that the next time he received a complaint about missing money, he could draw his own conclusions. I know the name of this cop, but I have changed since my southern Illinois ways and I am not sure it is for the better. Back in southern Illinois, we had different ways of dealing with that kind of cop. I want to share with you one of my favorite movie lines. It is from the Grapes of Wrath, where Tom Joad says to his mother, “where ever there's a cop beating up a fella, I'll be there, Ma.” Next time you watch that move, you will see that Tom Joad did not blink when he made that speech. Neither should we.
PS - I’ll be giving my son one of those ABATE legal cards on what to do when you get
stopped by a cop!

In the good old days being a DUI lawyer was easy. It used to be that DUI’s were misdemeanors and it did not make any difference how many you had. All is changed for the better, thanks to lobbying groups. This change in social attitude about drinking and driving has no doubt saved thousands of motorcyclists’ lives by stricter laws regarding DUI. Remember, it is the motorcyclist that bears the brunt of impaired drivers. Most impaired drivers are behind the wheel of a truck or car, not a motorcycle.
In Illinois, it used to be that a court could issued a Judicial Driving Permit (JDP). Indiana and Ohio have a similar provision allowing a judge to grant a hardship license, usually restricted to travel to and from work. Most courts even required the direct path to work to be described on the JDP. The new law is mostly directed to first offenders. JDP's are now gone, and in their place for 1st offenders, monitoring devices driving permits (MD-DP) can be requested which require motorists to have BAIIDs (Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Devices) installed in their vehicles, effectively stopping impaired drivers from starting their cars. The big change is that with a BAIID installed, driving will be permitted 24/7 and anywhere as long as the offender complies with all conditions for its installation (there are fees, inspections, and certification requirements). This will eliminate all the needless court time arguing about whether the driver was on the way to work or driving during the permitted hours of driving. However, the new law doubles the terms of the drivers license suspension. This will be expensive, as the offender must pay all expenses of the installation and periodic certification. The idea is that the courts can restrict the vehicle use by an impaired driver for a longer period of time and reduce even further
alcohol related deaths. Remember, if you don't take the BAIID approach (optional) you will save a lot of money, but be prepared for a lot of inconvenience. And remember, Hell hath no fury like a judge that catches you driving if you did not take the BAIID option.

One of my fellow motorcyclists is in the oil business. In that connection, he has learned all about the Duck Docket in federal court. Did you know that if certain migratory birds happen to die in an open pit operation, that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Commission can notice you up for a hearing in federal court and can assess a fine of $2,000.00 plus costs for your offense? Not to get lawyer like, but how do they know what caused the bird to die? Heart attack? Stroke? Cancer? Under the influence of soy beans/corn? What about an autopsy? They say the bird is a Dark-Eyed Junco. Since I did not know what a Dark-Eyed Junco was I decided to investigate. I have just learned that a Dark Eyed Junco is New Aged name for nothing more than a sparrow. We used to call them spatsies and got 2 points a piece for these birds in the Cisne FFA Pest Contest. When I last checked we are not running out of sparrows anytime soon. There are twice as many sparrows in the world as there are people. I think they must have hired a D.C. lobbyist.

Remember, injured ABATE members pay only 28 ½% of total recovery and expenses as approved by client, consistent with and conforming to applicable state law. Elsewhere, you may pay 33 a%, 40% or even 50% of your recovery. And, ABATE members are not charged for recovery of damage to your motorcycle, and have access to a 24-hour toll-free telephone number.

Ride Safe and Free,

Rod Taylor

A.B.A.T.E. Legal Services

If you have any questions you would like to ask the lawyer, please submit them to: Ask Our Lawyer, P.O. Box 2850, Indianapolis, Indiana 46206_2850, or email rodtaylor@abatelegal.com. © 2005, A.B.A.T.E. Legal Services