Can You Get a DUI on a Bike?
Learn if you can get stopped for riding a bicycle if you are suspected of being under the influence of alcohol from an experienced DUI lawyer here.
Is Riding a Bicycle Drunk Illegal?
Some people might assume that a bicycle is a great alternative to get home after having a few alcoholic drinks. That is not such a good idea. Depending on the biking route, drunk driving on a bike can result in a bicycle DUI.
Riding a bike while drunk is illegal in practically all US states. That means you can get stopped by the police if they suspect you are riding a bike under the influence of alcohol.
The US federal limit to legally drive is a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08%. So if an individual’s BAC is at or above that limit, they are considered legally intoxicated, whether they show signs of intoxication or not.
Police officers can detain a biker if they believe they pose a danger to themselves or others due to being under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Thus, anyone riding a bicycle who appears impaired due to alcohol intoxication could be arrested.
In fact, many states consider intoxicated bike riding practically the same as a DUI while controlling a motor vehicle. The potential consequences of drunk driving when on a bike will ultimately affect one’s driving privileges if convicted.
Can You Get a DUI While Riding a Bicycle?
Whether or not you can or can not get a DUI riding a bicycle depends on the state where the act occurred and how that state defines the term vehicle in their DUI laws.
The Importance of a Motor Vehicle Definition
Laws regarding DUI on a bike differ from state to state. DUI laws are built around the fact that it is illegal for a drunk person to operate a motor vehicle. Therefore, the definition of a motor vehicle in each state is crucial.
In the Commonwealth of Virginia, an individual can’t get a DUI for biking under the influence of alcohol or drugs. However, they can face other charges like recklessly driving a bike. Such offenses are categorized as Class 1 misdemeanors and can attract significant penalties upon conviction, including fines and jail time.
So, do not assume that the court will dismiss the charges because you were riding a bicycle and not driving a car. The safer thing to do in such an instance would be to hire an experienced Virginia DUI Lawyer. Your lawyer might be able to help you mitigate the charges and possibly reduce your penalties.
Virginia DUI and traffic laws can be complicated, so don’t hesitate to contact Christopher J. Mutimer, an experienced DUI attorney from Scrofano Law, for knowledgeable advice and skillful representation.
How DUI Laws Apply to Drunk Bike Riding
Some states define vehicles as every device which can be moved on a public highway or by which any person or property may be transported or drawn upon a public highway, including bicycles.
Thus, it is not unusual to hear that an individual has been charged with DUIs due to operating bicycles, motorized lawnmowers, and even golf carts in a drunken state. However, that depends on the particular state’s definition of the term vehicle. For instance, the DC Court of Appeal decided in 2010 that bicycles are vehicles.
In states that consider a bike as a vehicle, drunk bicycle riders are treated the same way as drunk drivers of other vehicles regarding DUI charges and potential penalties.
On the other hand, some states’ definitions of motor vehicles include only motorized vehicles. That is the case in the State of Illinois. In Illinois, a DUI offense occurs when a person is operating or being in actual physical control of a motorized vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. That is not the case with vehicles or devices moved by human power. But, that doesn’t mean drunk bikers are immune to being charged with other offenses. They could face disorderly conduct charges if they disturb the peace or cause alarm in any way.
In these states that don’t consider a bike a vehicle, it would be harder to charge someone for DUI on a bike. However, such an individual may still face a public intoxication charge or an endangerment offense.
To make things more complicated, in California, although biking under the influence is illegal, that offense would be punished by a $250 fine but no actual jail time. So it’s safe to say that California treats cycling DUIs differently than other DUI offenses.
Alternative Biking While Intoxicated Charges
In states that don’t apply DUI laws to bikes, defendants can face other charges for riding under the influence. These charges may include disorderly conduct, reckless endangerment, and even reckless driving. These are all serious allegations that may require the help of skilled criminal defense attorneys.
For example, a disorderly conduct charge in Washington state can result in spending up to 90 days in jail. Also, recklessly creating an accident or causing severe injuries to another person while driving a bicycle can result in jail time and a fine of up to $5,000.
In such an instance, you could use the help of a dedicated DC DUI Lawyer after a DUI arrest for biking under the influence.
Potential Penalties for Biking Drunk
Drinking and biking in most states that apply laws regarding drunk driving on bicycles can carry the same level of consequences and penalties as a DUI in a car. In other states, penalties for riding a bicycle under the influence can be slightly less severe than for driving other types of vehicles. Bicycle impoundment can be one of the consequences.
How Can Criminal Defense Attorneys Help?
In Maryland, you can face pretty much the same penalties when charged with DWI or DUI on a bike as you would when driving another type of vehicle. Working with a Maryland DUI lawyer can be the key to getting your charges reduced or dropped.
States impose different penalties for driving a bike while intoxicated. They often include possible jail time, fines, driver’s license suspension, and installing an ignition interlock device. A first conviction is typically considered a misdemeanor. Also, a DUI conviction for biking under the influence can count as a prior DUI if the driver is convicted of a subsequent DUI.
Regardless of how charges regarding riding a bicycle drunk are treated, experienced DUI attorneys and a law firm offering a free initial consultation can be of great assistance.
DUI lawyer Christopher J. Mutimer and the Scrofano Law team are here to protect your rights, freedom, and future. So, if you or your loved one is facing a possible DUI charge, reach out to us to schedule a free consultation, so we can discuss your options and help you defend your rights.
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