How You Get a DUI While Riding a Bicycle
Drivers should be alert and sober every time they get behind the wheel. Likewise, when you jump on your bike, you need to be completely in control of yourself and your body. Even on a bike, you share the road with drivers and pedestrians, which means you need to still be aware of your surroundings. Just like drunk driving, biking under the influence is a hazard to yourself and anyone you come across. As such, if an officer catches you biking while intoxicated, they will stop and detain you. The punishment for biking under the influence will vary depending on where you live. Some states treat it like any other DUI, while others have laws that specifically address drunk biking. Learn more about what constitutes drunk biking, how you get a DUI while riding a bicycle, and the other circumstances you might face with this overview.
How to Define Legal Intoxication
Knowing how to define legal intoxication is the key to understanding how you get a DUI while riding a bicycle. If you have a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or more and you behave as if impaired by alcohol or drugs, state law considers you to be legally intoxicated. Everyone reacts differently to alcohol and illicit substances, which can sometimes make it difficult to determine someone’s level of intoxication. However, a police officer might stop you if you are biking recklessly, swerving between lanes, or appear oblivious to your surroundings. These and other careless or erratic behaviors can indicate intoxication, giving officers a reason to stop you and give you a field sobriety test, including a breathalyzer to determine your blood alcohol content.
It’s also important to remember that you don’t need to be drunk to get a DUI charge. Marijuana and other drugs will also impair you physically and mentally, making it unsafe for you to be on the road. Even if you’re obeying all the rules of the road, an officer can stop you if they believe you are under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, or other drugs. The penalties are severe, no matter what substance you partake in.
When Can You Be Charged With a DUI?
In some states, biking under the influence falls under a DUI charge. Others consider it to be a different type of violation. The difference lies in the wording of the law. Some states have DUI laws that specifically mention motor vehicles. Because bicycles do not fall under this category, a DUI charge does not apply to individuals biking under the influence. However, many other states define a DUI as operating any vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Others define vehicles as any device that an individual can operate on a public highway, regardless of how their power source. By these definitions, bicycles qualify as vehicles, which means you can get a DUI while biking under the influence.
If your state includes bicycles under its DUI law, you can expect the same consequences for drunk biking as you do for drunk driving. These consequences can include fines, jail time, community service, losing your license, or requirements such as alcohol education classes, SR22 insurance, or an ignition interlock device. If you get a DUI for biking under the influence, it will also likely count as a prior DUI during any future offenses.
DUIs for Other Vehicles
It is also worth noting that states who don’t include bicycles in their DUI laws may still apply to other vehicles besides cars and trucks. If a state specifies that driving under the influence can only apply to motor vehicles, there are still several ways to end up with a DUI charge. Devices such as motorized bikes, ATVs, golf carts, and even riding lawn mowers still count as motor vehicles. Even if these vehicles are not allowed on the highway, you can still drive them in public spaces. If you operate these vehicles while under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, or other drugs, you can still face a DUI charge.
When Can You Be Charged With Other Misdemeanors?
Even if your state doesn’t include bicycles in its DUI laws, you can still face punishment for riding your bike in public while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Many of the states that specify DUIs as applying to motor vehicles also have additional laws regarding biking under the influence. While these laws are frequently less severe than DUI laws, they still come with consequences. You might face fines or jail time. The police officer might also impound your bicycle. In other instances, they might simply escort you home and hold your bike until you retrieve it once you’re sober again. However, even if a state or a local police officer does not pursue charges when they catch you biking under the influence, this doesn’t lessen the severity of the action. No matter where you live or how strict the laws have been in the past, every single state allows police officers to stop and detain anyone they suspect might be biking under the influence.
Similarly, all fifty states also have some sort of law regarding public intoxication. If you are on a public road or in a public space while under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, or other drugs, you might find yourself facing these charges. Many officers determine public intoxication by observing your behavior. Any erratic, reckless, or aggressive behavior that often comes with public intoxication becomes even more obvious if you’re on a bicycle. As such, even if you can’t get a DUI or similar charge for biking while under the influence, it is still possible for officers to stop you for drunk and disorderly behavior while in public.
While you may not necessarily cause as much damage on a bicycle, you are still sharing the road with other drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians. As such, always bike responsibly so you can look out for both yourself and others. As with all traffic laws and regulations, it’s important to check your state’s specific rules and wording. The more you know about how your state handles DUI cases, the better prepared you’ll be if you find yourself in these unfortunate circumstances.
If you find yourself facing a DUI charge for drunk biking or driving, Serenity Group can help you through the aftermath. We’ll help you get any SR22 insurance requirements in order by finding you a policy with the cheapest SR22 insurance in California, Connecticut, or any state you make your home in.