Road Rage and Florida’s 3 foot law

Judge throws out road rage assault case against cyclist in spite of video evidence.

Florida has a three foot passing law, though you wouldn’t know it from watching Ken Bereski’s video in Miami Beach.

As you can see in the video, the driver of a large black SUV passed within inches of the cyclist. Bereski asked the driver to please use a little more care, but the driver responded by opening his car door, balling his fists and ‘exchanging words’ with Bereski. When Bereski rode off, the driver of the big black SUV, Ernesto Alvarez Perez, pulled alongside the cyclist and swerved into him, forcing Bereski to the right to avoid getting hit.

Bereski flagged down a passing Miami Beach police cruiser. After he mentioned the video, police arrested Perez for aggravated assault. Prosecutors used Bereski’s footage as evidence in filing felony assault charges against the driver of the SUV.

When Miami Date Circuit Court Judge Jorge Cueto watched the video, though, he told the cyclist it’s his fault for riding too far from the far right edge, in spite of the cars parallel parked on the obviously narrow lane. Cueto tossed the case out.

Valid defenses against criminal assault include self defense and no credible threat. I doubt the driver, Ernesto Perez, feared for his life. For a ‘credible threat,’ the victim — in this case Mr Bereski — must have a legitimate fear of injury from his attacker. Maybe Judge Cueto believes somebody deliberately swerving a 6000 pound SUV toward him is all in good fun.

Cheers to the police who arrested Perez, and to the Miami Dade attorney for prosecuting this case. Jeers to motorbrain moron Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Jorge Cueto for dismissing the case out without considering the merits and excusing purposefully dangerous driving. One wonders if Cueto also blames rape victims.

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From Bike Another Day in Miami. More details on the case at Miami New Times.


  • Anonymous
    July 21, 2011 - 3:05 pm | Permalink

    In Florida, they will only enforce the 3′ rule if you are riding on the right hand side of the sidewalk – if you are riding on the road, you take your chances.   The judge decided that it was not assault because the cyclist had not been riding far enough to the right – the video shows him just barely outside the door zone.

  • July 21, 2011 - 6:59 pm | Permalink

    This all looks like a no brainer to me.  So, not being in the courtroom to hear what transpired, I am ordering a copy of the tarnscripts.  On the face of it, it looks like we have a judge here who needs to be educated…one of the many challenges we face. 

    I tip my hat to the Miami Police and Prosecuting team for rolling their sleeves up for Ken and cyclists.  Well done guys.

  • July 30, 2011 - 8:06 am | Permalink

    Nice one by the Author Road rage case miami i liked it

  • September 13, 2011 - 10:19 am | Permalink

    An old friend of mine who retired to Florida was killed while riding his trike (i think you call them) across a causeway in Florida.

  • September 13, 2011 - 8:19 pm | Permalink

    So sorry about your friend, Bill.

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