Bicycle DUI Laws
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Jeff Brown, a resident of Ohio, was walking his bicycle across his front yard when he was stopped by a police officer for not having a headlight on his bike. The officer stated he smelled alcohol on Brown's breath and asked him to take a Breathalyzer. Brown refused and was subsequently charged and convicted of drunk driving, receiving four days in jail, a 6-month driver's license suspension and a criminal record. You can review the details here.
Riding a Bicycle While Intoxicated
Is riding a bicycle while intoxicated a criminal act? Generally speaking the laws from state to state offer some variation of "A person is guilty of driving under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug if the person drives a vehicle within this state." The question then becomes, "What is a vehicle?" In Washington, a vehicle is defined as "including every device capable of being moved upon a public highway and in, upon, or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a public highway, including bicycles." In other words, many states, like Washington and Ohio, permit application of DUI laws for a wide range of vehicles, from bicycles to golf carts. In other words, you can find yourself facing stiff sentences for driving your bicycle home from a party after having a few beers (and even if your state does not allow for the charge of DUI if you are caught riding your bicycle while intoxicated, a police officer may still be able to charge you with public drunkenness or reckless driving).
The Consequences are the Same as for Driving an Auto
As strange as this may appear, the DUI charges are equally serious for bicycle riders and automobile drivers -- that is, the record of the conviction can affect your criminal record, driving record, employment opportunities, and applications for loans or rental property. For that reason, if you are facing a DUI for any vehicle, it's recommended that you seek the advice of an attorney familiar with DUI laws in your state.