Friday, April 22, 2011

People v. Varela (Cal. Ct. App. - March 29, 2011)

The question is whether a "pocket bike" counts as a "motor vehicle" for purposes of a statute that criminalizes fleeing from the police on a motor vehicle.  Seemingly straightforward.

Except for one thing.  I have no idea what a pocket bike is.

Justice Gilbert helpfully explains it to me at the beginning of the opinion.  "A two-wheeled device with a motor and a seat for a driver is called a 'pocket bike.'"

Okay.  Got it.

Except hold on.  What exactly are we talking about?  That definition includes motorcycles, right?  But surely those are motorcycles, not pocket bikes.  Are we talking instead about those motorized bicycles that I am increasingly seeing around town?  Those are probably "motor vehicles" (since they have a motor and are vehicles).  But why call them "pocket" bikes?  They're regular sized.  Why not "motorized" bikes?  Or would that be too close to "motor bikes".  Which is, yet again, something else entirely.

Even as I finish the opinion, I still don't know what the darn things are.  I get it, I get it:  They're "motor vehicles" regardless of what they are.  So I guess I don't have to know what they actually look like.  The holding's still right.

But I'm curious.  So I look it up.

Ah.  Those things.

Got it.  I'd have thought they were called "kiddie bikes" or "tiny motor bikes," but what do I know.

"Pocket bikes."  My education is now complete.