Operating a vehicle while intoxicated, either by drugs or alcohol, is illegal, and you could face serious fines and court summoning. While that mainly pertains to motor vehicles, can you get a DUI on a bicycle?
Let’s start by clearly stating that riding a bike while under the influence is not safe. Nonetheless, getting a DUI on a bike depends on the state you live in and whether the state’s laws regard a bike as a motor vehicle.
Even states that do not object to riding a bike while impaired or drunk do have separate rules for when riding a bicycle while intoxicated.
First, let’s look at the meaning of DUI, whether you can get a DUI on a bike, and what states you can get a DUI.
What’s A DUI?
Driving under the influence(DUI) is operating a vehicle while one is impaired or under the influence of alcohol.
The legal BAC (short for Blood Alcohol Concentration) limit in the United States is 0.08% for adults and 0.02% for people under 21.
Even when one is not above or within the legal limit, one can still get DUI charges for driving while in an impaired state. That means it’s up to a police officer or a witness to make the call for BAC testing.
DUI Vs. OWI
DUI is just Driving Under Influence, or Driving While Intoxicated(DWI), while OWI is simply operating while under the Influence. These two acronyms are interchangeable, and the penalties are the same.
The only difference between a DUI and an OWI is that you must be driving to get a DUI, but you can get an OWI simply for running a motor vehicle’s engine.
That’s to say, so long as you’re the one sitting behind the wheel, and the engine is running, but the car isn’t moving, you will get charged with an OWI and face the fines.
After getting a DUI or an OWI, the police may detain you and tow your vehicle. The police may ask for a BAC test, which results in a jail term or a grander fine.
Answered – Can You Get a DUI On a Bicycle?
There are some controversies surrounding the issue of riding a bike while intoxicated. While some states do not regard bicycles as the same as vehicles, others place bikes under the “vehicle” category.
That is to ensure that bikes also fall under traffic laws related to drunk driving.
Given that drunk driving or operating while intoxicated charges may be severe, some people feel that bikes should face separate charges. As a matter of fact, advocates have been petitioning for a BUI (Biking Under Influence) segment that only targets cyclists.
There are states where you will get a DUI for riding a bike under the influence. Bikes fall under the vehicles category in such places, as they are seen to be capable of causing accidents while one is under the influence.
A bike requires more stability from the cyclist, meaning it’s very likely to cause an accident on the road.
When arrested in these states, one could face charges similar to those of a driver or a substantial fine. For example, in Florida, the penalty could go as high as $1,000.
However, being in a state that does not impose DUI charges on a bike does not mean you get away scot-free. Some laws apply to a drunk cyclist, such as public intoxication.
When seen behaving impaired while riding a bike, a law enforcement officer could impound your bike and take you in. In some places, you could lose your right to cycle on public roads.
In the United States, Can You Get A DUI On a Bike?
That depends on your state and its laws. There are states whose laws forbid entirely riding a bike while drunk or intoxicated, such as Colorado, Idaho, North Dakota, and many more.
In states where you will not get a DUI on a bike, you can still have other charges cited and face corresponding charges.
So, instead of riding your bike while drunk, finding other means to get you to your destination is wise. That will ensure your safety and that of others and help you maintain a clean record and avoid unnecessary fines.
The following is a list of states where you can get a DUI for riding a bike while intoxicated.
Colorado, California (mainly on highways), Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Dakota, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Wyoming, and Rhode Island
The South Dakota state law even specifically mentions bikes. You’ll face some charges in Texas and Utah, but the states rarely pursue them.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Generally, Is It Illegal to Ride a Bike While Drunk?
Drunk riding is illegal in most places. Even in such states where it’s not, you may not get a DUI on a bike but may face public intoxication.
Besides, you also put yourself in a massive risk of getting into an accident or causing one when drunk riding. That means you could face manslaughter charges for endangering other people’s lives on the road.
Today, Can You Get an OWI On a Bike in Iowa?
No. In Iowa, drunk driving is similar to OWI. The difference is that the term ‘operating’ refers to being in physical control, meaning the charges are for simply starting your car engine. So long as your bike is not motorized, you will not get OWI charges.
Today, Can You Get A DUI On a Bike in NY?
No. DUI law in New York is only applicable to motor vehicles. That means you will not get a DUI charge for riding a bike while drunk. Other costs, however, may apply, such as public intoxication, leading to court appearances and fines.
Today, Can You Get A DUI On a Bike in Virginia?
No. In Virginia, bicycles don’t belong to the same class as motor vehicles unless it is a motorized bike. Therefore, you cannot get a DUI for riding a bicycle while intoxicated.
Despite that being the case, one can still face charges for reckless driving behavior resulting from riding a bike while drunk. Bicycles are also subject to rules that apply to other road users.
Things such as not giving the proper signals while riding the bike, losing control of the bicycle from an impairment, and endangering your life or the lives of others could result in some serious charges.
Today, Can You Get A DUI On a Bicycle in Florida?
Yes. Cycling while under the influence of alcohol is illegal under Florida Law. The bike and the cyclist have the same rights as those of other drivers and vehicles on the road and should therefore uphold the same standards as ordinary motorists.
If arrested for intoxicated riding, it’ll result in fines of $500-$1,000 or six months in jail for a first-time offender or both.
Past offenders might face extended prison time with much more implications. It’s also possible to face manslaughter charges if guilty of risking people’s lives on the road.
Today, Can You Get A DUI On a Bike in Minnesota?
No. You cannot get a DUI on a bike in Minnesota because Minnesota law does not view bicycles as vehicles. However, you may still face public intoxication charges for drunk riding, causing public disturbances, or being a danger to others on the road.
Today, Can You Get A DUI On a Bike in California?
Yes. Under the California Vehicle Code Section 21200.5 VC, a person riding a bike is subject to laws that apply to a driver. That mainly applies to intoxicated cycling on the highway. The punishment for those above 21 is a fine of up to $250.
Today, Can You Get A DUI On a Bicycle in Arizona?
No. In Arizona, a DUI is only applicable if one is driving a vehicle under the influence. Even so, you can still get a citation simply for riding a bike while impaired for putting other people and yourself at risk.
Today, Can You Get A DUI On a Bicycle in Texas?
No, you cannot get a DUI on a bicycle in Texas. Yet, you may want to be cautious about it. Prosecutors argue that the definition of a motor vehicle should also apply to bicycles according to the Texas Penal Code Title 7 Chapter 32.
Also, if one endangers other people while cycling due to drugs or alcohol, they may face public intoxication charges.
Today, Can You Get A DUI On a Bicycle in Michigan?
No. Michigan does not regard a bicycle as a vehicle because it relies on human power. That means that DUI charges don’t apply to riding a bike while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Public intoxication charges may apply if the cyclist puts lives in harm’s way when riding under the influence.
Today, Can You Get A DUI On a Bike in Indiana?
Yes. According to Indiana Code 9-30-5-1, it’s illegal to operate a vehicle under intoxication. It does not clearly churn out the definition of ‘vehicle,’ hence giving a law enforcement officer the power to stop a cyclist and ask for a breath or chemical test.
The charges, however, depend on the BAC level and whether you have a past DUI charge.
In Conclusion, Can You Get A DUI On a Bicycle?
That will depend on the state you are in. However, regardless of state law, riding a bicycle while under the influence is risky for cyclists and other road users.
Before hitting the road with your bike, it is best to ensure you don’t have blurry vision or impairment and are within legal limits.