You often read horror stories about freak accidents caused by people driving under the influence and the consequences of their actions. Many cyclists are unaware that biking while intoxicated (Biking DUI) can be just as dangerous and deadly as driving under the influence. There are over hundreds of reported injuries every year caused by drunk bikers.
In some states, there are well-defined laws that govern riding a bike. Moreover, a bike is regarded almost the same as other forms of transportation with the way they are defined.
So if you operate your bike under the influence of alcohol or drugs, it may be considered the same as operating a motor vehicle and thus subject to all laws that apply to this type of transportation in said state. As a result, biking under the influence could result in criminal charges and fines, and penalties for those caught riding drunk.
If you or someone you know bikes after drinking, there are a few things you need to know about what happens when biking while intoxicated if you get caught! We’ll discuss all the factors surrounding DUI on a bike and give you a list of all the states that currently apply DUI charges to bikes.
What is a DUI?
DUI is an acronym for Driving Under the Influence. The term means that you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs and cannot operate a vehicle safely. It is a serious legal offense, so it’s important to remember that the consequences can be very severe and potentially life-altering.
The laws for being convicted vary from State to State and even county to county in some places. But with this being said, most states have three things in common.
The first is that across the board, someone who is committing a DUI offense has a BAC (blood alcohol content) of .08 or higher. Every state has a legal limit for how much you can have before operating a vehicle, and it’s usually not more than two drinks within one hour.
Secondly, most states also ban the use of illegal drugs while operating a vehicle and any prescription drug with side effects like drowsiness. And the final thing all states have in common is that you never want them on your record!
Here are some general tips to remember about DUIs:
- It may be illegal to ride or drive if your blood contains too much alcohol, which is measured by someone’s Blood Alcohol Content level (.08% in all States).
- You will be arrested if you refuse a sobriety test when pulled over by police officers who suspect that you were drinking and driving.
How does a DUI apply to a bicycle?
Bikes in many states are considered vehicles and are also required to follow most of the road rules. They are subject to a few of the same penalties that can be received while operating a car. Additionally, in the states that a bicycle isn’t classified as a vehicle like California, riders are still subject to the rights and duties of driving regular vehicles.
Penalties for DUIs with bicycles
Drunk bicycling, unlike drunk driving, is manageable and not as irresponsible. In most cases, drunk cyclists will most likely fall of their bike seconds after getting on. So the chances of them being the cause of a major accident is very slim.
In fact, there are fewer accidents caused by drunk cyclists, that it’s very difficult even to find the accumulated statistics on these cases. So even though getting a DUI on a bike is a punishable offense, the penalties are often less severe than those for operating vehicles.
Those who get caught committing a BWI offense are often offered a ride home instead of getting a fine. In the other cases, they are treated the same as a DUI in a vehicle with the full penalties. The penalties vary by state but include fines, license suspension, bike impounding, and even jail time.
For example, in Indiana, penalties are usually more severe than in other states: If a person is convicted of BWI the first time, they could have their driver’s license suspended for 180 days to one year.
What states have biking Under the Influence Laws?
It is important to learn about the laws that apply to getting a DUI while biking. As such, here’s a compiled list of states that have laws and other restrictions against this offense. Also, remember that even though some states might have no laws against being intoxicated, you may still face other charges.
The best solution is to avoid riding whenever you’ve consumed alcohol which is your safest bet to avoid getting into issues. However, if you do ride after drinking, it is important to make sure that your bike is in good working condition and that you have a sober person nearby who can assist if needed. In addition, remember to stay off major roads or highways and always wear a helmet when riding for safety’s sake.
You should also avoid running into the police if and where possible if you know you’ve consumed alcohol.
If you are pulled over, be polite and cooperative. In most instances where you’re polite, you may sidestep the consequences and be offered a ride home.
The possibility of getting a DUI for being drunk on a bike is real. However, getting a DUI for riding a bike drunk might seem unwarranted since most cyclists don’t view bikes as dangerous as driving a car. But when you consider that it only requires a small stone to cause a major accident, what more could be said of something as unpredictable as a drunk cyclist.
You have to consider a case where a drunk rider accidentally fell in front of a vehicle like a truck which causes them to swerve into oncoming traffic, causing a major accident. Or let’s say they decide to disobey a traffic signal due to being intoxicated, which leads to a fatal accident. Either scenario becomes a possibility when you are drunk.
At that point, the question is not if you can get a DUI on a bike but rather how many lives that drunk cyclist could potentially put at risk. Drunk driving has been prohibited for decades now, and unfortunately or fortunately, it’s time to start taking cycling more seriously as well.
There are far more pedestrians, vehicles, and cyclists on the streets now than there were a few years ago. With that being the case, we all need to be aware that any violation can lead to an accident that could result in injury or death. So to avoid risking a DUI or causing personal injury, the general rule is that you should not drink and ride.