Quick Facts: Can You Get a DUI on a Bike?

  • DUI stands for "Driving Under the Influence" and means driving impaired by alcohol or drugs.
  • You can get a DUI on a bicycle in 19 states: Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Wyoming.
  • Most states penalize drivers over 21 if they have a BAC of .08 or more, but Utah's limit is .05. For those under 21, fines can apply with a BAC as low as 0.02.
  • When states count biking under DUI rules, penalties are the same as driving. Misdemeanors can lead to 60 days in jail and a $2,750 fine, while felonies can result in up to 5 years in prison and a $10,500 fine.

During the ten years from 2012 to 2021, drunk-driving crashes claimed an average of approximately 10,850 lives annually. These fatalities accounted for 31% of all U.S. traffic-related deaths. Alcohol intoxication accounted for over 34% of bicycle incidents.

In this article, we’ll look at the limits of bicycle DUIs under state law. So, can you get a DUI on a bike? Let’s find out.

can you get a dui on a bike statistic

What Constitutes a DUI on a Bicycle

Let’s get into the details of what constitutes a DUI and whether can you get a DWI on a bicycle.

 

DUI and DWI on a bicycle

A DUI, or Driving Under the Influence, refers to operating a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs. But can this apply to bicycles as well? The answer is yes. When biking under the influence, you may be subject to the same laws and penalties as a motorist.

 

Two categories encompass drinking and driving:

  • Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
  • Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)

 

Also, in some states, you might hear these terms instead of DUI or DWI:

  • OUI (Operating Under the Influence)
  • OWI (Operating While Intoxicated)
  • DWAI (Driving While Ability Impaired)
  • OVI (Operating a Vehicle Impaired)

But, in all cases, a person over 21 years of age operating a vehicle has a blood alcohol сoncentration (BAC) of .08 or higher (Utah is the exception, with a limit of .05) to receive a penalty.

 

Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC)

can you get a dui on a bike bac

To avoid a DUI for riding a bike, you need to understand the legal limits of intoxication. In 2021, 19% of fatally injured cyclists aged 16 and older had a blood alcohol сoncentration (BAC) of .08 or higher.

BAC in g/dL Predicted effects on driving
.02 Reduced visual function, divided attention
.05 Diminished coordination, tracking, and emergency response
.08 Memory loss, slower speed control, and impaired processing
.10 Impaired lane-keeping and braking
.15 Severe impairment of vehicle control, attention, and information processing

Several factors can influence BAC:

  • Your body's size and composition play a significant role in alcohol metabolism. For instance, a smaller person may experience a higher BAC when consuming the same amount of alcohol as a larger person, as it's less diluted in their bloodstream.
  • Eating before or during drinking can slow alcohol absorption, as food helps absorb some alcohol and delays its entry into your bloodstream. Having a meal before drinking can lead to a slower increase in your BAC compared to drinking on an empty stomach.
  • The rate at which you consume alcohol matters. Quickly consuming a large amount of alcohol can cause a rapid spike in your BAC.
  • Some medications can interact with alcohol, affecting its metabolism.

Remember, authorities can impose fines on individuals under 21 even if their BAC is 0.02. Many states levy additional fines on drivers with extremely high blood alcohol concentrations (0.15% or higher).

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Implications of DUI on a Bicycle

Getting a DUI on a bicycle can have serious legal ramifications. Let’s figure it out.

can you get a dui on a bike key

 

Is riding a bicycle drunk illegal? Criminal Charges

Cycling under the influence of drugs or alcohol can lead to criminal charges, fines, and potential jail time. Most of the United States categorizes drunk and disorderly conduct as a misdemeanor offense.

The jail sentence duration can vary but extends up to one year. But, if you have previous DUI convictions or aggravating factors, the court may impose longer jail terms, and in certain instances, it might escalate to a felony. If authorities charge you, you may secure release through bail or bond. For a first-time DUI offense, the average bail amount ranges from $500 to $10,000.

 

What is the penalty for riding a bicycle drunk?

A conviction for a bicycle DUI can result in fines, probation, community service, or imprisonment, depending on the severity. As an example, public intoxication can lead to fines ranging from $500 to $2,500.

Like DUI convictions for motor vehicles, drunk bike riding can result in the suspension of your driver’s license. The duration of this suspension usually ranges from 6 months to several years, contingent on your state’s laws and your case’s unique details.

 

Other Consequences

It is also worth noting several legal consequences that may impact your life due to a bicycle DUI:

01

Criminal Record

A bicycle DUI, like one in a car, can create a criminal record affecting job and housing prospects. Authorities assign demerit points on a scale from 1 (lowest) to 6 (highest). If DUI leads to involuntary manslaughter, your driving record will accrue 6 demerit points. Some states have a washout period of 10 years, after which the DUI no longer counts as a prior conviction.
02

Probationary Period

You might face a probationary period with specific rules and regular reporting to a probation officer. Driving under the influence can make you responsible for the emotional distress you cause, potentially requiring efforts to mend relations with the victim.
03

Examination and Treatment

DUI convictions often need substance abuse testing and may mandate participation in a substance abuse treatment program.

Even though some penalties like license suspension and drug evaluations may not relate to cycling, most states treat biking while intoxicated DUIs to car DUIs.

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State-Specific DUI Laws

One critical aspect of bicycle DUIs is that the laws can vary from one state to another. Some states treat bicycles like any other vehicle for DUI, while others have separate regulations. Keep reading to figure it out.

 

What states can you get a DUI on a bicycle?

Here, we simplify the answer to whether you can receive a DUI on a bike in various states.

State Can you get a DUI on a bike by state law?
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
Wisconsin
Wyoming

 

Examples of state regulation

Let’s take a closer look at some states with noteworthy regulations of bicycle DUIs.

01

Can you get a DUI on a bike in California?

No. While DUI laws don't apply to bicycles, the California Vehicle Code does forbid cycling on a highway while intoxicated. Law enforcement can arrest anyone violating this law and request a chemical test of their blood, breath, or urine to assess alcohol or drug content. A conviction for this offense can result in a fine of up to $250.
02

Can you get a DUI on a bike in Delaware?

Under state law, DUI regulations do not extend to bicycles. But, riding a bicycle on a roadway while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and posing a potential danger to others is illegal. A fine is $550.
03

Can you get a DUI on a bike in Kentucky?

The answer is no. Kentucky law also restricts individuals under the influence of alcohol or drugs from operating a non-motorized vehicle, although it doesn't include provisions for DUI.
04

Is riding a bike drunk a DUI in Utah?

Yes. While Utah law permits the prosecution of cyclists for DUI (with a lower threshold of 0.05 compared to other states), it excludes them from facing any driver's license-related penalties.
05

DUI for riding a bike in Georgia

Georgia is among the states that proactively use extra measures for DUI offenders. For example, a Mandatory DUI Alcohol or Drug Use Risk Reduction Program and 40 hours of community service.
06

DUI on bicycle Florida

Public intoxication constitutes a misdemeanor offense in Florida. If you're riding your bicycle after drinking, you could face such a charge. Furthermore, Florida treats biking under the influence equivalently to driving under the influence. So, can you get a DUI riding a bicycle in Florida? Yes.

It’s important to note that in states with DUI regulations for cyclists, the typical consequences involve fines and other measures, with imprisonment being improbable.

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Explore our article on “The Ins and Outs of Slip and Fall Settlements: Protecting Your Rights” for valuable insights.

How to Avoid a Bicycle DUI

Remember, the key to avoiding a Bicycle DUI is prioritizing safety and responsible conduct while cycling. If you’ve consumed alcohol, opt for alternative transportation methods like walking, using public transit, or contacting a sober friend or taxi.

can you get a dui on a bike how to avoid

If law enforcement stops you while drinking and riding a bike and suspects impairment, it’s crucial to remain polite and cooperative. Resisting arrest or becoming confrontational can exacerbate the situation. For instance, in Washington, officers may offer alternatives, such as arranging safe transportation or directing you to a treatment center.

If you’re confronted with a Bicycle DUI charge, consider seeking legal counsel from a DUI-experienced attorney or contact us. They can assist you in navigating the proceedings and exploring potential defense strategies.

Frequently Asked Questions

Have any DUI question?

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Is it illegal to ride a bike drunk?

Yes, riding a bicycle drunk can be illegal, depending on your location and your level of intoxication. If your blood alcohol level exceeds 0.08, and your state lacks bicycle DUI laws, authorities can still issue you a citation. So, the answer to can you ride a bike drunk is no.

What is the penalty for riding a bicycle drunk?

Penalties for riding a bicycle drunk can include fines ($250 – $2,500), license suspension, mandatory programs, and even jail time (up to 1 year) in some cases.

Is a bike a vehicle?

In many states, a bicycle is legally considered a vehicle. This means that DUI laws for motor vehicles can apply to bikes as well.

William Green lawyer
William Green
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