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Is Bicycling Under the Influence Illegal?

You might think that the term "driving under the influence" or "DUI" refers to operating a motor vehicle. This is true, but California law prohibits intoxicated drivers from operating other types of vehicles too, such as bicycles.

Under CA VC 21200.5, it’s illegal for anyone to ride a bicycle on a public roadway while under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or a combination of the two.

Cycling under the influence is a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine not to exceed $250 and no jail time. However, a conviction for CUI will give you a criminal record, so it is worth fighting.

Under Section 21200.5, if the police suspect that a bicycle rider is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they can request the bicyclist to submit to a chemical test in the form of a blood, breath, or urine test to determine if the officers’ suspicions are right.

Cycling Under the Influence and Implied Consent

California law states that as a driver, you give "implied consent" for chemical testing if law enforcement arrests you for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The same rule applies to bicycling under the influence, and refusing to submit to chemical testing can lead to the same legal penalties.

Refusal can lead to a variety of consequences, including driver’s license suspension regardless of the outcome of your case. In the event of a conviction, you could face additional imprisonment.

Generally, it is unwise to refuse to submit a blood, breathe, or urine test after any DUI arrest, including bicycling under the influence. The prosecution may use your refusal against you. If you take the test, a skilled DUI defense attorney can help you create a strong case against the test results.

Other Types of "Vehicles"

In California, there is a specific law that prohibits bicycling under the influence, but California's general DUI law leaves room for a variety of other "vehicles." For example, police officers can arrest you for operating a boat or even an ATV under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The same law could apply to go carts, riding lawn mowers, mopeds, and golf carts.

So, the next time you drink you’re better off staying away from cars and bicycles and either calling Uber or Lyft, or going places the old fashioned way – by walking!

Arrested for bicycling under the influence in Orange County? To fight your charges, contact the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc. for a free case evaluation!