Billy Lane’s legal problems stagger on.
The celebrity bike builder’s trial was cancelled last week and yesterday, February 9th, Lane’s attorney said a plea arrangement will be announced on April 7th.
Lane could face a 15 year prison sentence for either manslaughter or vehicular homicide. This is the third time this trial has been postponed.
Lane, 39, owns a custom motorcycle shop and store called “Choppers, Inc.” in Melbourne, Florida. Casual observers of the American bike scene know Lane as a character in two Discovery Channel reality shows, Biker Build-Off and Monster Garage. Lane is the author of two books, Chop Fiction and How To Build Old School Choppers, Bobbers and Customs. And, he is also involved in the production of another, as yet unsyndicated, television show called The Next Great American Builder.
Lane must need every dime he can wring out of the waning, custom chopper phenomena.
Lane’s Troubles Begin
Lawyers know Lane as good business because of the legal fallout from an apparent drinking problem Lane seemed to have in the late summer of 2006.
Lane was arrested for driving drunk in North Carolina in June. Police claimed Lane was riding his motorcycle the wrong way on a two-lane road and was not wearing a helmet. Lane was charged with DUI after he refused to take a Breathalyzer test. He was eventually acquitted of that charge.
He may or may not have been drunk again on Labor Day when he crossed a double yellow line in his custom pickup truck and crashed head-on into a Yamaha moped. The accident happened in Melbourne on the coast highway, AIA, about 9 pm. The Moped rider, Gerald Morelock, was pronounced dead on the spot. Both men were alleged to be legally drunk.
The Florida Highway Patrol announced that Lane’s blood alcohol level was .192 when the accident occurred. The legal limit in Florida is 0.08. Lane’s lawyers have argued for the last 28 months that he wasn’t really that drunk-if he was drunk.
The truck Lane was driving at the time of the accident was a promotional vehicle lent to him by Chrysler so that automaker has become a co-defendant with Lane in a couple of lawsuits.
Lane’s Troubles Continue
Lane and Chrysler were both sued by Gerald Morelock’s survivors in October 2006. The suit was settled in July 2007. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.
Last May Erin Derrick sued Lane and Chrysler. Derrick was a passenger in Lane’s pickup when Lane hit Morelock. She alleges that Lane was drunk at the time of the accident; that she was permanently disfigured and disabled as a result of the accident; that she has suffered permanent or continuing pain and suffering; that she has lost money; and that Chrysler should never have let Lane have the truck.
At the time Derrick’s suit was filed Lane’s lawyer, Greg Eisenmenger, said Lane still consider Derrick a friend. “There’s no hard feelings,” Eisenmenger said.