New York State DMV steals motorcycles?

Lisa does a great job of capturing the days events here… this is just one fight of many… stay tuned.

Congratulations to Mike Willig… well done!




DMV Steals Motorcycles
Photo: Lisa Petrocelli



Lisa Petrocelli

Albany Biker Culture Examiner

Wednesday, November 3, 2010, was an historic (half) victory for Mike Willig of Hudson Falls, New York, against the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles.   Some background on Mike’s case, as excerpted from Hank McGrath’s previous article (see “NYS DMV Discrimination Against Bikers”):

“The DMV WRONGLY accused an individual {Mike Willig of Adirondack Seafood, Hudson Falls, NY} with a felony for having a motorcycle with its vehicle identification number missing/removed and after this individual was arrested in front of his employee and customers, charged and incarcerated, he was later exonerated by a judge when records and vehicle identification documents were verified to be legit.  DMV refused to return Mr. Willig’s vehicle – a 1981 w/a “73 Ironhead customized Harley Davidson, even AFTER the judge issued an order for DMV to return the property to its rightful owner!!!  Instead, the Attorney General of NYS has filed legal action against the judge in an attempt to rescind the order, in a process quite like extortion, with no regard for the citizen’s civil and Constitutional rights; nor the legal process. It seems that citizens now face the same administrative-regime-process suffered by prisoners fighting for rights!”

The DMV not only wanted to affix a new VIN number to Mike’s bike before he was allowed to retrieve it, but they also affixed that very condition under which they held the bike in their possession, citing a section of law which was proven to be not applicable to Mike’s case, as the original owner of the motorcycle.

Mike’s case was heard in Queensbury Town Court yesterday, and after a lengthy hearing, with testimony from DMV’s lawyer and witnesses, the DA’s office, and Mr. Willig’s attorney, along with some ridiculous objections by the DMV lawyer, Mike was finally able to retrieve his bike from DMV’s possession.   However, this was not a full victory for Mike, as his bike was NOT returned in the same condition in which it was seized (he no longer has the original VIN number which was his major concern in this matter, as the VIN number determines the class and value of the bike), and upon examining the bike outside the courthouse, Mike discovered that the original numbers had been ground down to the extent that the numbers are illegible.  Nevertheless, Mike is grateful and relieved that his motorcycle is back in his possession on his own property.  The question of whether DMV is in contempt of court for not returning the motorcycle (without condition) after the original court order was issued will be determined at a future date.

Following the court hearing, another man approached DMV officials to present his own case of discrimination.  Bill Pelton, of Averill Park, New York, was stopped at a roadblock on his way to AMJAM back in May 2009, for a broken taillight, but was then detained while law enforcement officials broke into his trailer to inspect the contents which included two of Bill’s motorcycles.  Again, officials claimed the VIN numbers were not valid (despite Mr. Pelton holding title and all necessary documents to prove otherwise), confiscated Bill’s motorcycles, and after 12 months actually SOLD both bikes at auction, with no notice to Mr. Pelton!  Apparently, these are not isolated incidences as it seems there is a pattern to this activity by DMV.

Supporters of Mr. Willig, namely Hank McGrath of B.A.D., and Carmella Brown of New York Rider Magazine were understandably very upset with this additional revelation and voiced their opinions to the lawyers and DMV staff members who were in attendance.  Bikers Against Discrimination and New York Rider Magazine intend to assist Mr. Pelton in any way that is necessary and possible.  This discrimination against motorcyclists should not continue, and Mike Willig is only the pioneer in what will surely be a long and difficult fight for justice.

This entry was posted in Alerts, B.A.D. Alert - New York DMV Seizes Motorcycle and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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