Is Bicycling While Drunk a Crime in California? Yes!
You may have seen this scene a dozen times before: A group of young people stop at the bar for a few drinks while they’re on their bikes. They then bike home – or even bike to the next bar for another round. While many people assume that because bikes do not have engines that DUI laws don’t apply to them, this is simply not true.
Read on to learn how a person can be charged with a DUI – or worse – when riding while intoxicated. If you have been charged with this or a related crime, reach out to The Mattern Law Firm at 310-342-8254 for your free legal consultation.
The relevant California Vehicle Code
California Vehicle Code Section 21200.5 classifies riding a bike while under the influence as a misdemeanor. Note that “under the influence” is not as clearly defined as it is with a typical DUI charge. Some prosecutors will claim a person is under the influence if they are biking with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .05% which is about two to three beers per hour for an average 165 pound person.
Others will say that .08% is the required BAC for a DUI of biking, which is the same BAC required for a successful DUI charge for driving. If an officer believes that you are under the influence while on your bike, you can expect a field coordination test, potentially a breathalyzer, or perhaps even a blood sample. They need these tests to meet their requirements of proof.
Potential consequences of operating a bike under the influence
If a person is convicted of a DUI while driving a car, then they are likely to go to jail. This is not the case with biking under the influence. As a misdemeanor, it is punishable by a fine of up to $250. It will likely not lead to a license suspension. However, it is still wise to request a trial. It will cost an average of $5,000 a day for a prosecutor to run a courtroom for your trial while the conviction will just result in $250. As a result, they are likely to offer you a plea bargain.
You may be facing additional charges
If you read the above and assume that it is all that can happen if you drive under the influence, then it may be easy to assume that it is not a big deal. This is untrue. If you are riding your bike while drunk and you are involved in an accident with a pedestrian, other bike, or car, and a person is injured or dies as a result, then you could be facing very serious charges.
If you have been charged with any type of crime, whether driving or biking under the influence, a drug crime, or another serious crime, then you have someone on your side: The Mattern Law Firm. Contact us at 310-342-8254 right now for your free legal consultation.