Repeal Montgomery County’s Bicycle Registration Law
This must be the Holiday Season because this Red Maryland author needs to weigh in with his support of a legislative proposal from Delegate David Moon of Takoma Park. To his credit, Delegate Moon has both publicized and criticized a ridiculous Montgomery County code provision that requires all bicycles be registered with the county and display a registration decal.
The Montgomery County Code (Sec. 7-4. Bicycle registration) treats registration violations as Class C civil matters, essentially not a crime. Maryland law, however, also gives police officers the discretion to also treat Class C violation as a misdemeanor crime.[i] When charged as a misdemeanor, Class C violations are punishable by a $50 fine and up to 10 days in jail if the fine is not paid.
Delegate Moon became aware of the registration law after Montgomery County Police Officer Christopher Brown “pulled over” cyclist Steve Silverman. He was charged with a criminal violation of the county’s bike registration law.[ii] (Does “aggravated bike without registration” really exist as an offense? Apparently so.)
Police can also impound any unregistered bicycle until the bicycle is properly registered. The net proceeds received from the sale of impounded or abandoned bicycles go to the Police Relief and Retirement Fund.
Delegate Moon, posted a link to his video on Facebook, along with the text of the bicycle registration law. He urged the Montgomery County Council to “repeal this nonsense.”[iii]
Curiously, the law has been on the books since 1995. However, statistics on the number of previous “bike registration” prosecutions remain unavailable. Evidently, the Montgomery County Police Department does not track this category of arrests as part of the county’s uniform crime statistics.
In response to Moon and the Silverman case, Council Member Tom Hucker (D–District 5) says he wants to re-examine the law.
Repeal will not happen a moment too soon.[iv] In the meantime, county bikes can be registered on the Montgomery County Police Department’s website at https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/pol/bike-registration.html