oct. 22. 2014

When is a "bike" a "motor vehicle"

R. v. Pizzacalla, 2014 ONCA 706 (CanLII)

Ricky Pizzacalla's legal saga appears at an end. The issue that began his legal saga was whether the "e-bike" he was operating, at time he was stopped by police, was a "motor vehicle" - something he was prohibited from operating due to an earlier impaired conviction. Pizzacalla had argued at trial that it was not a motor vehicle, in part because he did not require a licence to operate it. As noted by the Court of Appeal, that argument did not succeed at trial:

held that the device Mr. Pizzacalla was driving was not a power-assisted bicycle as, under the Highway Traffic Act, at s. 1(1), such a machine is defined, among other things, as having “affixed to it pedals that are operable” and as being “capable of being propelled solely by muscular power”.
The device Mr. Pizzacalla was driving did have two pedals. However, neither was operable. One was attached to the device but not in a way that would allow the driver to propel the device by muscular power. The other pedal was not attached to the device at all; it was in a storage compartment on the device.
The trial judge went on to find that, as the device Mr. Pizzacalla was driving was not capable of being propelled by muscular power, it fell within the definition of a “motor vehicle” in s. 2 of the Code. A motor vehicle is defined in that section as “a vehicle that is drawn, propelled or driven by any means other than muscular power, but does not include railway equipment”. [@4-6].

Pizzacalla launched a summary conviction appeal and renewed his argument. That appeal was dismissed.

Pizzacalla then sought leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal. That court dismissed his leave application: None of Mr. Pizzacalla’s arguments raise an issue of law alone. They do not provide a basis to grant leave to appeal. [@11]: 2014 ONCA 706.

It appears that Pizzacalla's legal saga is now over. His "device" was indeed a motor vehicle within the meaning of section 2 of the Criminal Code.