Yes, you can get a DUI while biking under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Although operating a car or motor vehicle while intoxicated may incur harsher penalties, the penalties for riding a bicycle while impaired or drunk can be severe too, especially if you cause damage or serious injuries.
Whether you’re facing charges of biking while drunk or simply have questions or concerns about the law, California criminal defense attorney Louis J. Goodman has your back. With over 25 years of experience in Alameda County and beyond, Mr. Goodman provides the aggressive, client-centered defense you need.
Consult an Alameda County Expert in DUI Laws
If you’re caught riding a bike while drunk or under the influence, things may become complicated for you. Every case is different, and specific nuances or legal loopholes can mean the difference between losing your rights or getting by with minimal penalties. Combat criminal offense with powerful criminal defense.
With the increasing popularity of bicycles, motored bikes, and hybrid vehicles, you should always know your rights. All DUI cases are serious, so ensure you call a seasoned California defense lawyer if you’re facing penalties for biking under the influence or while intoxicated.
Many states vary in handling a DUI conviction for cycling under the influence. In California, specific codes address what may happen if you ride a bike drunk. In the following article, we’ll explore the California vehicle code and how drunk drivers (and bikers) can defend against these charges.
Understanding DUI Laws and Traffic Laws in California
Most states define cycling under the influence as a “Bike DUI.”
Under California laws, a DUI on a bicycle, also known as a “Bicycle DUI,” occurs when a person operates a bike on a public roadway while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Just like with a car, a person can be charged with a DUI on a bicycle if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% or higher or if they are under the influence of any drugs.
What Does the California Vehicle Code Section Say About a Cycling DUI?
The specific California law governing a DUI on a bicycle is in California Vehicle Code Sections 21200.5 and 21200.6. These sections make it illegal to ride a bicycle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Section 21200.5 states that it is illegal for any individual to ride a bike under the influence of alcohol or any drug. Section 21200.6 provides that the DUI laws apply to the operation of a bicycle on a highway or any other way open to the public.
Bicycle DUI vs. Motor Vehicle DUI
You may be asking yourself, how can you get a DUI on a bike if a bike is not a motorized vehicle and is under human power?
Nonetheless, the penalties for a bike DUI may be similar to those for drunk driving. If convicted of a bike DUI (one or more wheels), you may face jail time, fines, driver’s license suspension, and a criminal record. In addition, the courts may impose additional penalties, such as community service or mandatory alcohol or drug treatment.
Many States Take Bicycle DUIs Seriously
Although some cyclists accused of riding under the influence may only face fines, some related charges, such as public intoxication, disorderly conduct, or possession of drugs, may lead to jail time.
California Vehicle Code (CVC) section 21200.5 states that:
“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.”
A person arrested should schedule a free consultation with an attorney after cycling under the influence.
Breath Tests and Chemical Tests for Alcohol and Illegal Drugs
The legal limit for BAC while driving a motor vehicle is 0.08% in California, but there is no specific legal threshold for BAC while riding a bike. However, if a person’s BAC is 0.08% or higher while riding a bike, they may still face DUI charges under CVC section 21200.5.
Most cyclists under the influence may avoid taking a breath test or blood test. That said, the arresting officer may request a breath test or test of a person’s blood pursuant to determining alcoholic or drug content.
You have the right to request results from a test performed. In some cases, test results may support your case. Always speak with an attorney about such evidence.
Penalties for Biking Under the Influence
DUI penalties for bike riding typically do not carry the same level of punishment as motor vehicle DUIs. The maximum penalty for a first-time DUI offense on a bike is a $250 fine, and a second offense carries a maximum fine of $1,000. In contrast, the penalties for a first-time DUI conviction while driving a motor vehicle include fines, license suspension, and possible jail time.
According to California’s laws, a biking DUI will not affect your license. However, if you are under 21 years of age, you will face a 1-year license suspension, impacting your driving privileges.
While a motor vehicle, like a car, may be impounded, your bicycle will not be. So, get somebody to take your bike home!
Protect Your Rights with a Top Defense Attorney
Just remember, a police officer cannot stop you without probable cause. If you run stop signs, drive erratically, or speed excessively, you give an officer reason to arrest you. Public intoxication may be a clear probable cause.
As you can see, there are similarities between riding bikes drunk and driving drunk in motor vehicles. However, there are also key differences in penalties, BAC limits, license suspension, and cause requirements.
When charged with a DUI on a bicycle, consult Louis J. Goodman for quick, painless legal support.
Common Defense Arguments for a Bike DUI
If you have been charged with a DUI while riding a bicycle in California, know that you have legal options and defenses under California’s law. While every case is different, here are some common defenses that you can use to challenge a DUI charge while riding a bicycle in California:
Lack of Probable Cause
As with motor vehicles, police officers must have probable cause to pull over a cyclist for a suspected DUI. If the officer did not have reasonable suspicion or cause to pull you over, any evidence obtained during the stop may be inadmissible in court.
Improper Administration of Tests
If the officer administered field sobriety tests or chemical tests improperly, you may be able to challenge the results in court. For example, if the breathalyzer used to test your blood alcohol level was not properly calibrated or maintained, the results may be inaccurate and can be rightfully challenged.
Fluctuating Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC)
In some cases, the BAC of a person may rise after they have stopped riding their bike due to the continued absorption of alcohol in the bloodstream. Rising blood alcohol levels can result in a falsely elevated blood alcohol concentration at the time of testing.
Medical Conditions or Medications
Certain medical conditions or prescription medications can lead to a false positive result on a breathalyzer or other chemical test, leading to an incorrect DUI charge. Even if a cyclist’s BAC is above the legal cutoff, if they were not demonstrably impaired while riding their bike, they may be able to challenge the charge in court.
Location of Offense
In some cases, neighborhood streets are privately owned by residents. A cyclist in California must be riding on a public highway, not a private road, to receive a bike DUI conviction. However, if you’re off a public highway, endangering people or property may subject you to other charges.
As always, consult a top California criminal defense attorney when you face a bike DUI charge in Alameda County.
Arrested? Get Aggressive DUI Legal Support Today
Many cyclists are unaware of the bicycle DUI laws in California. Whether charged with operating a motor vehicle or riding a non-motor vehicle under the influence, you need a defense lawyer who gets results.
Confused, frustrated, and losing sleep over a potential bike DUI conviction?
As a former deputy district attorney and experienced Alameda County criminal defense lawyer, Louis J. Goodman has seen it all. Avoid severe penalties or even get the case dismissed. With proper legal support, handle your charges and move on in life.
You’ve got help right near you. Contact Mr. Goodman today.