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Florida Drivers claim lack of state oversight led to their fraudulent motorcycle endorsements

By General Posts

by Stephanie Coueignoux from https://www.mynews13.com

ORLANDO, Fla. — About 200 people’s lives are now literally stalled after the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles suspended their driver’s licenses.

Each of these individuals took a motorcycle endorsement training course two years ago so they could ride, but there’s now an issue.

What You Need To Know

  • About 200 Floridians had their driver’s licenses suspended over an illegitimate motorcycle endorsement
  • State officials say the company in question was not a legitimate business
  • Some of the drivers affected say the suspensions are not fair, because the state initially accepted the endorsements

The state sent these people letters suspending their driver’s licenses, after it discovered the course wasn’t legitimate. But many of these drivers are upset, pointing out it was the state that accepted the certifications in the first place.

Francisco Perez Velez is one of the drivers who received one of the letters. As the owners of an electric service company, Velez responds to power outages around the clock. His nephew, Evelio Perez, works with him.

“We need to be there as soon as possible,” explains Perez.

It’s part of the job made more difficult when the state suspended their licenses.

“It’s going to be sad — you’re driving without a license and stopped by a police and you’re heading to your job and heading to the jail? It’s not fair,” said Perez.

Perez and his uncle received separate letters from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, which claim they committed fraud.

“We were in a nervous breakdown because we saw the cancellation of the license and assuming the state we did fraud, we were all in shock,” said Velez.

This all started back in 2019, when nearly 200 people — including Perez and Velez — took a motorcycle course with the Pasco Motorcycle Training Institute. They took their certification to the DMV, which updated their driver’s licenses.

“They gave us a certification. This certification on our license, they just do an endorsement that says also motorcycle,” said Velez.

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles emailed Spectrum News saying “the individuals … knowingly accepted the endorsements without having gone through the necessary training.”

Both Velez and Perez say they didn’t realize the course wasn’t legitimate, especially since the DMV accepted their credentials. They feel the state should review these training companies regularly instead of punishing clients two years later.

“Why then would I risk everything for just a simple endorsement?” Velez asked when asked if he knew the training course wasn’t legitimate.

“You don’t know how many other companies have been doing this as well,” said state Sen. Victor Torres. “You’ve opened up Pandora’s box and all of a sudden, you’ve found more violations are occurring.”

Torres believes this is a major public safety issue — since people are riding motorcycles without the proper training — and is now looking to craft a bill to create tougher regulations.

“I think for the companies who do issue these licenses — there should be a review every year by the state to make sure they are following the guidelines, they’re following the rules, and they’re not cutting any corners,” said Torres. “I think we will look into legislation for next year and see what can be added, with the work of the department as well.”

We asked the state why it took two years before it discovered the Pasco Motorcycle Training Institute wasn’t legitimate and why the DMV accepted the endorsements in the first place.

A spokesperson responded by email, saying “the department acted as soon as we were made aware of the issue.” The email went on to say “individuals who had their license suspended may appeal.”

In a later email, Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles spokeswoman Jessica Kelleher expanded on the reason the issue with the Pasco Motorcycle Training Institute wasn’t discovered earlier.

“Once we were made aware that the Pasco Motorcycle Training Institute — a provider entrusted by the state and the public to provide training and evaluate an individual’s ability to safely and lawfully operate a motorcycle on Florida’s roadways — was issuing these fraudulent endorsements, we immediately began investigating; ultimately suspending the nearly 200 individuals’ licenses who fraudulently obtained them as well as PMTI’s certification and program,” Kelleher wrote. “Because PMTI was a trusted state provider, and sent these documents to us claiming them to be accurate and legitimate, we had no reason at the time to believe there was any malfeasance until we received a tip that led to a lengthy and thorough investigation.”​

Velez and Perez are in the process of appealing their license suspensions. In the meantime, they’ve received a hardship license- which allows them to drive for professional, but not personal, reasons.

“(It’s been) very stressful — we’ve been back and forth,” said Velez. “I have to go to the doctor and take some medication because it’s stressful. Family involved. Employees.”

The state has suspended the motorcycle certification program pending their open investigation.

Spectrum News tried to contact the Pasco Motorcycle Training Institute, but never received a response. The company’s website is also now suspended.

Free Safety Course Included with Motorcycle Purchases

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by Annie Lindgren from https://northfortynews.com

Fort Collins Motorsports (FCMS), in partnership with Indian® Motorcycle of Fort Collins (IMOFC), has announced it will offer a free safety course to riders (valued at $250) with the purchase of any new make or model motorcycle from its dealership.

“Safe riding should always be a priority, and we’re excited to have an opportunity to tap into our IMRG network so that we can offer this course for free to customers,” said Jeff Sroufe, general manager of Fort Collins Motorsports. “With May being Motorcycle Safety Month, we want to ensure all of our fellow riders are equipped with knowledge of important skills to help them ‘live to ride and ride to live’ while on the open roads.”

With two dates to choose from, on May 8 and August 14, 2021, the safety course event will take place on-site at the IMOFC dealership (1800 SE Frontage Rd., Fort Collins, Colorado 80525). During the four-hour safety course, expert training will be provided by a local police officer and certified motorcycle instructor, who also acts as VP and safety director of the Northern Colorado Indian® Motorcycle Riders Group (NOCO IMRG).

Designed for every level of motorcycle rider experience, the course will cover key safety topics in a real-world style setting. Safety topics include threshold braking, obstacle avoidance, slow speed precision, and more. Each course has been organized into a three-part format, starting with an educational ‘Listen & Learn’ segment, followed by a live demonstration to ‘Watch & Learn,’ and ending with a supervised ‘Ride & Learn’ practice session.

Upon making a qualifying motorcycle purchase, riders will receive access to register for the course through an exclusive direct link. FCMS is also offering the educational (Listen & Learn) segment as a complimentary video download for those pending or without a purchase to ‘Ride Fear Free’ at www.indianmotorcycleoffortcollins.com/ridefreeRSVP.

DISCLAIMER: A completed liability waiver and valid Motorcycle Endorsement will be required for course admittance. The ‘Road Survival Training’ course is supplementary to other training courses and is not MSF Approved (completion of the ‘Road Survival Training’ course does not earn a Motorcycle Endorsement). Participants will need to come prepared with individual helmets and safety gear to use during the ‘Ride & Learn’ portion of the course.

Learn more about Indian® Motorcycle of Fort Collins at www.indianmotorcycleoffortcollins.com. To learn more about Fort Collins Motorsports, visit www.fortcollinsmotorsports.com.

Triumph Motorcycles America partners with Motorcycle Safety Foundation to offer Free Basic eCourse to new Riders

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Atlanta GA, USA, Jan. 21, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Central to the values of Triumph Motorcycles is a passion for riding. To share this passion Triumph Motorcycles America has partnered with the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) to make the MSF Basic eCourse available free of charge to prospective new riders, or former riders interested in riding again. The 3-hour eCourse, valued at $20, is a great introduction to riding. It is also a prerequisite for the hands-on MSF Basic RiderCourse, which in most states will make student eligible to obtain a motorcycle endorsement upon completion.

“Triumph Motorcycles has always been ‘For The Ride’, so this is a very fitting partnership to help share that passion. Now more than ever, people are looking for new forms of recreation, so I couldn’t think of a better time to help them discover the joy of riding.” Rod Lopusnak – General Manager, Triumph Motorcycles America.

“We’re excited to partner with Triumph and help people embark on their journey into motorcycling. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation believes in lifelong learning, and prospective riders will find the eCourse to be the best first step to becoming a lifelong rider.” Erik Pritchard – President and CEO of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.

To facilitate the offer, Triumph has launched the website TriumphRider.com, where prospective riders may complete a form to be emailed a unique promo code, which can be applied when they register on the MSF website to redeem the Free Basic eCourse, compliments of Triumph.

Harley-Davidson ridership course at UWM sees growth after second semester

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by Margaret Naczek from https://www.bizjournals.com/

Last spring, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee offered its first Harley-Davidson one-credit ridership class through the College of Health Sciences. Four students enrolled the first semester followed by an additional 16 students in the fall of 2019.

As students begin enrolling in classes for spring 2020, the director of the College of Health Sciences Ron Wiza said there are only four remaining slots available.

As the program grows, so do the amount of motorcycle riders, coinciding with Harley-Davidson’s “More Roads Lead to Harley-Davidson” strategic plan. Part of Harley-Davidson’s plan is the Broader Access goal to “create new pathways to Harley-Davidson, expanding access and appeal to more people around the world.”

The Milwaukee-based motorcycle manufacturer detailed that it hopes to create high-engagement customer experiences across all retail channels. The company’s “Amplify Brand” goal also encourages “enhancing the Harley-Davidson experience to inspire interest in riding, fostering Moto-culture and build an even bigger, more passionate community of Harley-Davidson riders.”

The program began as a partnership between Harley-Davidson and UW-Milwaukee. The company connected Wiza with Milwaukee Harley-Davidson dealership at 11310 W. Silver Spring Road.

“The other reason that we chose the Milwaukee Harley-Davidson location is because even though UW-Milwaukee is a commuter college where a lot of people don’t live on campus, there are still several thousand students that live in the surrounding community around UWM,” Wiza said, noting that it was important to pick a dealership that was either close to the campus or accessible on the transit line.

“Here at UWM, we’re kind of an urban campus. One of our selling points is we are always encouraging students who attend our university to experience the vast array of things that Milwaukee has to offer,” Wiza said. “With that in mind, we strive to create partnerships and develop opportunities with local well-known businesses and attractions in the Milwaukee area.”

Twenty-year-old Grace Oddis, a sophomore studying mechanical engineering at UWM, took the course in its inaugural semester.

“I knew the class was really expensive. I saw that UWM offered it as a credit. I thought that would be a great opportunity to take it and also get a credit, just for the goal of being able to ride on the road and feel comfortable,” Oddis said.

As a one-credit class, the students are required to commit about 48 hours of learning to that course. For the Harley-Davidson ridership class, students complete a pre-course and post-course assignment along with two evening sessions. The rest of the time is dedicated to a weekend at the dealership doing the physical motorcycle driving lessons.

“We learned a lot about motorcycle safety. That was the biggest thing — how to prevent things from happening, being able to go around different obstacles and keeping the bike straight on the safety course,” Oddis said.

Now the sophomore has her motorcycle license and is looking at buying a bike, something that would have taken longer if she had not participated in the course.

“I thought it was a great experience. You felt comfortable. You felt safe. I think it’s great to get more women involved in motorcycles and teaching them. This was a great way for a college student to be able to do that no matter what you’re going to school for,” she said.

Harley-Davidson did not respond to a Milwaukee Business Journal request for comments on the UWM program.