Although most DUI charges involve motorized vehicles and sometimes motorcycles, there are plenty of DUI charges involving other types ofvehicles that might be different from the standard car. Can you get a DUI on a bicycle? There are cases in which courts handled charges against drunk biking. However, these charges vary from a state to another.
Some people doubt that a drunk biker can harm someone or produce a lot of damage. There are some states that completely exclude bicycles from their definition of “vehicles”. Other states limit the DUI application to “motor vehicles”. However, there are a few states that treat bikes the same way they treat cars. In this states, a drunk biker can face the same potential legal penalties as any other drunk driver.
DUI laws from state to state offer different approaches. They range from “a person is guilty of driving under the influence of intoxicating liquor and any drug if the person drives a vehicle within the state”. The real question is “what do they mean by vehicle?”. For example, in Washington D.C., a vehicle is defined as something that includes every device capable of being moved upon a highway, including bicycles.
Many states such as Washington and Ohio, allow application of DUI laws for a wide range of vehicles, from bicycles to golf carts. Therefore, you may find yourself facing harsh charges for riding your bike after a party where you have been drinking a few beers.
On the other hand, many states are not that specific when defining the kind of vehicles that they include in the DUI laws. They state very little about human-powered or non-motorized ones such as bikes or horses. In some states, the term “vehicle” applies depending on the accident and its damages.
In the case in which it is specified the term “motorized vehicles” in the DUI law, it is highly likely that riding a bike while you are intoxicated will not result in a DUI conviction since bicycles are man-powered. Though, you could get charged with public drunkenness or reckless driving.
Which Are the Other “Motor Vehicles”?
This is another area from the DUI laws that is difficult to define. Some states have created a list of “motor vehicles” that fit into this definition:
- All-terrain vehicles such as ATVs
- Riding lawn mowers
- Pocket bikes
- Golf carts
The best thing to do is to consult your state’s rules when it comes to DUI legislation. You can see that there are plenty of vehicles that have motors, wheels, and are operated by human drivers and can qualify as motor vehicles for purposes of drunk driving laws, including horses and wagons).
In Texas, the law that prohibits driving under the influence of alcohol or other substances is written so that it applies to motor vehicles and therefore does not directly apply to bikers.
In comparison, the state of Mississippi has laws that prohibit driving while under the influence for all vehicles, including bicycles. Therefore, you should not drive a bike if you have alcohol or other substances in your system. This may lead to severe punishments.
All in all, the answer to the question “can you get a DUI on a bicycle?” is yes, you can if your blood alcohol concentration is above the limit while you are operating your bike.
In Colorado, a bicycle rider with a BAC between 0.05% up to 0.08 % is presumed to be “driving while ability impaired”. If the alcohol blood concentration is above this level, he is presumed to be driving under the influence. Moreover, if the bike rider is under the age of 21, it takes a blood alcohol concentration level of only 0.02% to be presumed DUI.
What Factors Does Your Blood Alcohol Concentration Depend On?
Alcohol concentration in the body tends to vary from an individual to another and it is related to several factors such as:
- Your weight
- The period of time in which you were drinking alcohol
- The amount of time that has passed since your last drink
However, it is unlikely that a police officer will stop you for a random sobriety test while you are on your bike. This may happen only in the case in which you bring unnecessary attention on yourself or you get involved in some kind of accident.
In Los Angeles, five bicyclists were arrested for DUI, in 2011. Can you really get a DUI on a bicycle? It seems so. Even though in some states, a bike is not considered a vehicle within the meaning of the DUI law, unfortunately, there are some law aspects that can make you look like an offender and get you arrested.
The Consequences of Drunk Biking
There is a specific section of the Vehicle Code that makes it a misdemeanor to be under the influence of alcohol while riding your bike. This allows a police officer to arrest you for riding your bike while having a little too much to drink. Usually, a misdemeanor has the possibility of being imprisoned. However, in most cases, you will receive a fine that cannot be higher than 250 dollars.
As unusual as it may be, the DUI charges are equally serious for bicycle riders and automobile drivers. The registration of the conviction can affect your criminal record, driving record, employment opportunities, and applications for loans and rental property. For this reason, if you are facing DUI charges for drunk biking, you should immediately seek the help of a specialized attorney. He knows best the DUI laws in your state.
Because of the wide range of laws regarding DUI charges while riding a bike, it is best for you to be cautious and stick to the safe side of the law.
Seek The Help of A DUI Lawyer
In the case in which you are convicted of DUI charges, you need the experience of a DUI attorney. A good lawyer will assess all the evidence, including the sobriety test accuracy, to make sure that your legal rights are protected. Most of the lawyers offer a free first consultation, so your first step should be to contact him/her.
Keep in mind that if something is legal does not mean that you should do it. Intoxication increased the risk of accidents and injuries. So, can you get a DUI on a bicycle? Yes, you can. This is why you need to avoid drinking and driving or biking.