APOPKA, Fla. - An Orange County man is facing $328 in fines and seven points on his driver's license after deputies pulled him over while riding a bicycle.
It happened in a rural neighborhood in Lockhart at the intersection of Merritt Road and Clark Street, two narrow, dead-end roads south of Apopka and just west of 441.
After suffering a massive heart attack in September, Gary Elswick, 51, says he was following doctor's orders to get exercise when he decided to go on a bike ride.
Elswick says it was his first time riding a bicycle in 25 years and he had no idea that he was breaking the law when he hit the road just before dusk Tuesday evening.
"I was riding in the middle of the street. I come to the stop sign, I looked both ways, I didn't put my foot down, but I just eased on cause there was nothing coming," said Elswick.
Elswick said that's when he heard the deputy's sirens.
"I thought he was going to go around me, but he come whizzing right up beside me and jumped out and told me I'm getting two tickets," said Elswick.
Orange County deputy Jovani Santo-Hernandez wrote Elswick two citations each for $164. One violation was for failing to come to a full and complete stop, the other for driving the wrong way on a one-way street.
But Elswick said he was not riding on a one-way street, but rather a dead-end street. In fact, all of the streets in his neighborhood are so narrow, they don't even have painted lines to divide the roads. Also, Elswick says prior to this, he has never even received a speeding ticket.
"I couldn't believe it," said Tammy Elswick, Gary's wife.
The moving violations will also put seven points on Elswick's driver's license. According to the Florida Bicycle Association's Executive Director, Tim Bustos, if Elswick does not fight the tickets and pays the fines, the two citations will likely go on his driving record and could affect his automobile insurance rates.
"For them to not give a warning and just throw out $328 worth of tickets is a hardship for us," said Tammy Elswick. "We were riding a bike. I mean, for heaven's sake. There's real crimes going on out there and that's what they should be worrying about."
Tammy Elswick said this is not only a hardship for them, but should be a warning for anyone who owns a bicycle.
"I (asked the deputy), 'So you're telling me if my 2-year-old granddaughter is out here on her bicycle, you're going to give her a ticket cause she's riding her bike just right here in front of me or something?' He goes, 'No, that's against the law and we're going to give you the ticket,'" said Elswick.
Local 6 asked the Orange County Sheriff's Office for dash cam video of the incident and for an on camera interview to talk about bicycle rules. In an email to Local 6, a sheriff spokeswoman said deputies assigned to patrol do not have dash cams and said that no one would be available to answer our questions. Instead, sheriff spokeswoman Ginette Rodriguez referred Local 6 to the Florida Highway Patrol, "since they are the experts in traffic." She also stated, "bicyclists are subject to the same traffic laws as motorists."
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