Can you get a DUI on a Bicycle?

Considering that a typical DUI charge (VC23152) does not apply to a person riding a bicycle, some people might think that riding a bicycle is a smarter thing to do if one has been drinking alcohol or using drugs.  Wrong!

California has a specific statute that applies to bicycles and being impaired.  Vehicle Code 21200.5 states:

it is unlawful for any person to ride a bicycle upon a highway while under the influence of an alcoholic beverage or any drug, or under the combined influence of an alcoholic beverage and any drug.

The good news is, there is no legal per se limit for a DUI on a bicycle.  This means that there is no specific alcohol level that would make the rider presumptively illegal.   For instance, if a person is driving a car, having a blood alcohol level of .08% or more at the time of driving would make the driver presumptively in violation of the law.  Thus, when riding a bicycle, the government must prove that the rider is actually “under the influence” of alcohol and or a drug.   This requires a factual determination, like performing poorly on field sobriety tests, etc.

If you are stopped by a police officer and are accused of riding a bicycle under the influence, remember, you have no obligation to answer questions about alcohol or drug use; you also have no obligation to blow into any breath devices, or perform any field sobriety tests.  Doing any of these things only gives the officer evidence to use against you to try to convict you of a crime.

Any person arrested for violating the bicycle DUI statute may request to have a chemical test made of the person’s blood, breath, or urine for the purpose of determining the alcoholic or drug content of that person’s blood, and if requested, the arresting officer must have the test performed.

The question?  is it in the rider’s best interest to request a chemical test?  Remember that the chemical test results will become evidence in the case.  The evidence could support the conclusion that the rider was indeed under the influence of alcohol and or drugs or support the conclusion that the rider was not under the influence.

Nevertheless, the rider has the option to request a chemical test should he/she desire to exercise that right.  Whether a rider wants to request a chemical test depends on the rider’s recent drug or alcohol use.

If convicted of violating the bicycle DUI statute, a person shall be punished by a fine of not more than two hundred fifty dollars ($250).  If the convicted person is under the age of 21, the court may suspend the person’s driver license for 1 year or, if the rider does not yet have a driver license, delay the ability to get a driver license for 1 year.

If you have any questions with regard to your specific situation or you’ve been charged with DUI, feel free to call me:  (951) 332-0207 – and we can evaluate your particular situation.