Ask Chuck: Can A Cyclist Get A DUI?
Plenty of cyclists do more than just train and rack up the miles. For many, a bicycle is a vital means of transportation for work, leisure, and their primary way to get around town. It makes sense; no parking, low operating costs, and a great way to mix in some physical activity into a busy day. Some even ride during a night out on the town. Can you ride a bike after having a drink or two? Not really.
Riding home from the bar is only slightly more responsible than driving, but in the eyes of the law, it’s just as dangerous. In most states, riding a bicycle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is punishable by the exact same standards as if you were operating a motor vehicle. The majority of states define a bike as a vehicle and the same standards apply. The legal blood alcohol limit is still .08, and you can also be charged if you exhibit behavior that indicates impairment.
Some states have bicycle-specific DUI charges that separate bicycles as non-motorized vehicles. That differentiation aside, many of the penalties and fines for driving while under the influence are almost identical to those associated with motorized infractions. Most often, the only difference is how the crime is reflected as an offense on your driving record or as points on a driver’s license.
Those punishments for DUI infractions can be substantial. First time offenders are typically charged with a misdemeanor and face steep fines, community service, mandatory breathalyser tests, and more. Each instance of a DUI is recorded, and repeat offenders face losing their licenses and jail time. Some states do not include bicycling DUIs as a prior offense, but most do; so that DUI riding home from the bar could actually prevent you from driving in the future.
There is nothing smart about operating any vehicle while intoxicated. For cyclists in need of a lift, many local public transportation options like the bus have bike racks installed. Using ride hailing apps like Lyft and Uber offer the ability to find vehicles capable of transporting your bike. Worst case, lock up your bike in a safe place and come back for it later; trying to ride under the influence is too costly and too dangerous a proposition to try.
When it comes to DUIs, there’s nothing more sobering that these somber statistics. Don’t add to the 28 people who die each day because of drunk driving.