Updated: February 1, 2023
When we think of someone being arrested for a DUI, the last thing we would think of is someone riding a bicycle. Leaving a bar late at night and being stopped, yes. Getting pulled out of a random roadside checkpoint stop, yes. However, can you get a DUI riding down the street on a bicycle? The legal answer is still yes. This is because under the law today, just because you are riding a bicycle, this does not exclude you from being stopped for a DUI or DWI if an officer sees you and believes you are intoxicated.
In general, it is illegal to operate a bicycle on a public road or path while under the influence of alcohol or drugs if it impairs your ability to ride safely. For example, in California, it is a crime to ride a bicycle on a highway while under the influence of alcohol or drugs if it impairs your ability to ride safely. This crime is punishable by a fine of up to $250. In addition, the court may order you to participate in a rehabilitation program, attend alcohol education classes, or perform community service.
First, you will have to check the exact wording of your state laws. For instance, if the law specifically says “motor vehicle,” there is a very good chance the courts will not consider riding a bicycle intoxicated as a DUI. However, if the law simply states the word “vehicles,” you may be subject to a DUI if you are caught riding a bicycle intoxicated.
It is important to note that the legal definition of “under the influence” for the purpose of cycling while impaired laws is usually different from the definition used for DUI laws that apply to motor vehicles. The specific legal definition of “under the influence” for the purpose of cycling while impaired laws may vary depending on the jurisdiction, but it generally means that you are unable to ride safely due to the effects of alcohol or drugs.
It is always a good idea to be mindful of the effects of alcohol and drugs when operating any type of vehicle, including a bicycle. Even if you are not breaking the law, riding a bike while under the influence can be extremely dangerous, both for you and for others. It is best to refrain from cycling if you have consumed alcohol or drugs that could impair your ability to ride safely.
In these cases, the court will treat a bicycle just as it would any other type of vehicle, from a car to a truck to a motorcycle. In the eyes of the law, you are operating a vehicle that presents a danger to both yourself and others when intoxicated. If a cyclist has ever run into you, you can understand why the court would consider a drunk bicyclist a danger.
Due to the constantly changing state laws and local ordinances regarding DUI enforcement and how it applies to bike riders, acquiring immediate free DUI legal advice is always the best course of action if charged or cited for biking while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
When can a person be charged with DUI or DWI while bicycling?
There are many new laws today to protect cyclists from motorists on public streets. Consequently, there are also laws which cyclists must obey as well such as other safety measures. Even when a person is obeying bicycle safety laws in their state, an individual can still get charged with DUI or DWI.
When a person is stopped by a police officer who believes you are riding while intoxicated by alcohol, Marijuana, or other drugs, there are severe monetary consequences, and even having to serve time in jail with some cases. The bottom line is, if you are riding your bike outside in a public area, public intoxication is a misdemeanor criminal offense which most police officers will strictly enforce.
Furthermore, getting convicted of any DUI, DWI offense today can affect your life and future in ways many people do not first realize until after the fact.
What would make a police officer suspect a person is riding a bike under the influence?
When an individual is swerving between lanes on a road, erratically biking and appearing not to be paying attention, a police officer will have sufficient reason to stop a person to determine sobriety. The officer will likely request the individual to take field sobriety tests, and a Breathalyzer to establish BAC readings.
Why is biking while under the influence of alcohol or drugs a problem?
Since each person will react to alcohol, drugs, or prescription medication differently, a cyclist taking any of these substances is more likely to operate their bike dangerously. Whether a person has a single drink or multiple drinks and then decides to ride a bike home, they will be taking a safety risk.
It is important to remember that even though a bicycle is not operated in the same manner as an automobile, a cyclist can still cause a serious accident if they choose to bike under the influence. The bicyclist and other drivers on the road can be injured when cars to swerve out of the way to avoid hitting someone biking while intoxicated in the road.
Are There “Other” Non-Standard Vehicles Eligible for a DUI?
Even if bicycles are not considered a “motor vehicle” according to your state’s specific law, there are numerous other types of vehicles that will fall under DUI law. Some of these are:
- Go Carts
- Golf Carts
- Motorized Bikes
- Riding Lawn Mower
While many of these types of vehicles are not necessarily highway approved, they are now used quite commonly in local communities. For instance, retirement communities and even some smaller cities allow golf carts to be driven around on local roads as long as they are licensed and registered.
Hiring a DUI Attorney for a Bicycle DUI
If you have been arrested and charged for a DUI while riding a bicycle, what happens next is you will face the same penalties as the driver of a motor vehicle. If you have injured someone in the process, you may face higher monetary fines and/or a longer jail sentence. To fight these charges, you will need the help of an expert local DUI attorney. Additionally, we can provide free advice to help you win by filling out the DUI arrest review on this page.
For more defenses and facts about riding a bike while under the influence of alcohol, Marijuana, or illegal drugs, contact FightDUICharges for free online legal assistance.
Additional DUI, DWI on a Bike 2023 Law Information:
Taryn J. White is a legal research specialist and DUI law news reporter. Her current accomplishments include helping those facing any driving under the influence arrest charges, get free online assistance in learning how to fight a DUI case for the best possible outcome.