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Man Found Not Guilty of Riding ‘Toy Vehicle’ in Lakewood

Judge Patrick Carroll: “If it is not prohibited by law it is presumed to be permitted conduct.”

A Lakewood man charged with riding a “toy vehicle” in Lakewood has been found not guilty in Lakewood Municipal Court.

Lakewood police cited Dominic Latessa for pedaling his four-wheeled, non-motorized “Rhoades Car” on Madison Avenue on Sept. 26, 2012.

In his opinion, Judge Patrick Carroll agreed that the quadricycle is not likely safe for the roads, but pointed out that the vehicle — not unlike a bicycle — doesn’t fall under the classification of a toy.

The Rhoades Car is a four-wheeled bike that “rides like a car.” It’s 5-feet long, with two front seats — each with a set of pedals — and a bench-style backseat. 

“Neither the Ohio Revised Code nor the Lakewood Codified Ordinances set out a definition of a toy vehicle,” Carroll wrote in his opinion last week.

Roller skates, sleds and skateboards are “specific items that are readily identifiable.”

However, Carroll pointed out that the vehicle, too wide for sidewalks, still may not be safe for Lakewood’s streets.

“In making a find of not guilty, the court’s decision is limited to the prohibition of the operation of the vehicle itself on city streets,” Carroll wrote. “Vehicles on the public streets must comply with lights, reflectors, brakes and other requirements.”

“The defendant was not cited with any other violation and therefore, the court is limited to the offense charged.”

If he had been convicted, Latessa faced a minor misdemeanor charge punishable by a fine of up to $150. 

“If it is not prohibited by law it is presumed to be permitted conduct,” according to the judge’s opinion. “Due process requires that the prohibitions imposed by law must be clearly defined in the law.”

Michael A. Miller January 08, 2013 at 12:20 PM
So, something like this gets cited even though I saw a cop sit and do nothing after a driver blew through a stop sign right in front of him on a Madison Avenue side street.

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