HB 2598 A has been signed by Governor Brown today.  The bill also known as the “Milkman Mike Act” or the “Driver Responsibility Bill” will become law on January 1, 2018.  This means that if a reckless driver injures a motorcycle rider or their passenger, the driver can be charged with vehicular assault and will be a Class A Misdemeanor.  The punishment can be doing time up to one year in prison and a maximum fine up to a $6,250.

This is a great win for Oregon riders!!   Now we have something that has some teeth in it to punish drivers who are determined to be “reckless”.   We have had too many brothers and sisters run down by car drivers getting a ticket for nominal money or no ticket at all.  At best they get a slight bump in their insurance rates.  And in the case of no ticket, their insurance company never really has a clue they have a high risk client on their hands.

All it took was a sharp attorney (Christopher Slater) to do a very simple thing.  He had the great idea to look to see if there is existing legislation. He found legislation that covered bicyclists and pedestrians:

For the purposes of this section, “recklessly” has the meaning given that term in ORS 161.085 (Definitions with respect to culpability).
(2) A person commits the offense of vehicular assault of a bicyclist or pedestrian if:
(a) The person recklessly operates a vehicle upon a highway in a manner that results in contact between the person’s vehicle and a bicycle operated by a person, a person operating a bicycle or a pedestrian; and
(b) The contact causes physical injury to the person operating a bicycle or the pedestrian.
(3) The offense described in this section, vehicular assault of a bicyclist or pedestrian, is a Class A misdemeanor. [2001 c.635 §5]

From there it was easy to add a few words…”motorcycle rider and passenger”. It was so simple it was brilliant. Much thanks to Christopher and his efforts.  Many thanks to BikePac of Oregon and ABATE of Oregon who also worked hard to make this bill a reality.  And finally a huge thanks and much appreciation for all the awesome witnesses who testified at hearing.  The telling of their terrible experience of being hit by reckless drivers and how that changed their lives forever was very compelling.

And may Milkman Mike rest in peace forever.  This legislation is something he worked hard to achieve for many years.  He was unable to see it done due to a health issue and we lost him several years ago.  Mike was constantly working within the motorcycle rights community.  He also worked as the coordinator for the Coalition of Independent Riders (COIR).  He spent a great amount of time adding non affiliated and independent riders to his communication roster.