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Can Cycling Under the Influence Lead to a DUI?

While it may seem a lot less harmful than getting behind the wheel of a car after drinking, riding a bicycle when under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a crime in California. Bicycles are not technically considered vehicles under California law, but they must submit to the same rules of the road as motorists do. This includes following the traffic laws, using turn signals, stopping at red lights and stop signs, and not riding under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Penalties for Biking While Impaired

To be charged with cycling or bicycling under the influence (BUI), it must be proven that the accused was riding a bicycle, that they were riding the bicycle on a highway (meaning any publicly maintained road), and that they were under the influence of drugs or alcohol while cycling.

Penalties for bicycling under the influence:

  • $250 fine
  • A criminal record
  • Suspension of a driver's license if under 21
  • Additional drunk in public charge

Cycling under the influence is illegal in a large part due to the number of bicycle accident fatalities that are linked with riders who consumed alcohol. BUI is a definite safety issue, especially as it pertains to drunk bicyclists, namely because a drunk bicyclist is far more likely to be killed than a sober bicyclist. Intoxicated cyclists are far less likely to wear a helmet, and they’re at an increased risk of sustaining traumatic brain injuries than sober cyclists, which can double the costs of hospital care.

What Are the Defenses to BUI?

Defenses for bicycling under the influence are similar as those for driving under the influence (DUI). It can be claimed that the rider was not under the influence, that they seemed impaired for other reasons, or that the arresting officer did not follow proper procedures surrounding the arrest. Ultimately, the facts of your unique case would determine which defense strategy is best.

While a conviction for cycling under the influence does not carry the same harsh penalties that driving under the influence can, it can still leave a rider with a criminal record – which should be avoided at all costs.

If you or a loved one has been charged with BUI in Orange County, the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc. can work with you to build a solid defense. To learn more about your case, contact our firm for a free consultation with the DUI Queen!