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Can Drunk Bicyclist get a DUI?

After a few drinks it might sound like a nice idea to beat the uprising Uber fares and get some fresh air – why not bike home? How dangerous could it be? After all, a bicycle is not motorized. The answer: it can be very dangerous, even illegal in some states.

The definition of a DUI or “driving under the influence” charge is as follows: “operating a motor vehicle while one’s blood alcohol content is above the legal limit set by statute, which supposedly is the level at which a person cannot drive safely.” Does biking and drinking count as drinking and driving? Are the penalties the same or similar?

In Florida, there is an average of 5.7 bicyclist deaths per one million people; this number might sound small but in 2012, bicycle accidents claimed the lives of 120 people. Florida ranks as the state with the highest amount of bicycle deaths per capita.

According to a New York City study, 21% of bicycling deaths in the city involved bicyclists who had alcohol in their system. That means that one out of every 5 people who have died on two wheels had been drinking.

If you have been involved in a cycling injury, contact our San Francisco personal injury lawyers today for a free consultation!

What States Treat Biking Under the Influence like a DUI charge?

The following states apply DUI laws to biking under the influence: Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.

Wait But Bikes Aren’t Considered ‘Motor Vehicles’?

Although bikes are not considered motor vehicles, but they are vehicles that are physically operated and capable of harm to both the driver, property and even other vehicles. For example, if a drunk bike rider takes to the public road and swerves into traffic, that could cause harm to the bike rider, the car driver and potentially pedestrians if the car swerves and hits someone.

If you bike and drink in a state where DUI rules are not applied to bikes, you are still able to get a citation for public drunkenness or reckless driving. Although it may seem harmless to hop on your bike after a night out at the pub, but if your blood alcohol content level has reached 0.08%, you have lost 80% of your biking ability.

“It is unlawful for any person to ride a bicycle upon a highway while under the influence of an alcoholic beverage,” reads California’s Vehicle Code. If this code is violated, fines begin at $250.

In order to preserve your bank account, your safety and the safety of others – schedule an Uber or designated driver to take you home.