If you’re like a lot of people, you might have thought that "driving under the influence" only referred to automobiles, but that’s not the case in California. Like in many states, California legislatures believe it’s dangerous to operate an ATV, a dirt bike, a motorcycle, and even a bicycle under the influence of alcohol.
According to California law, bicycles are subject to the same traffic laws and restrictions as cars. If you think about it, bicyclists must obey the rules of the road and motorists must treat them with respect and keep them safe. So, it’s understandable why it’s a crime in California to ride a bicycle under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both.
If until now you previously thought it was okay to have a couple of drinks and jump on a bicycle, you want to think again! According to Section 21200.5 of the California Vehicle Code, "it is unlawful for any person to ride a bicycle upon a highway while under the influence of an alcoholic beverage or any drug…"
BUI is a Misdemeanor Offense
If law enforcement suspects that you are "drunk biking," you may be asked to submit to field sobriety tests or chemical testing. Breath, blood, and urine tests are all ways that law enforcement can use to determine whether a cyclist is under the influence.
Bicycling under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a misdemeanor, punishable by a $250 fine. While a $250 fine may seem less severe than jail or probation, biking under the influence is still a crime and will lead to a criminal record.
If you are under the age of 21, a cycling under the influence conviction could lead to driver’s license suspension. Typically, license suspension will last for one year. If the cyclist is too young to carry a driver's license, the DMV could prohibit him or her from obtaining license for an additional year.
What Are My Defenses?
If a police officer sees you riding a bicycle in an irregular pattern, especially in a public place or near drinking establishments, the officer might assume that you are riding under the influence of drugs or alcohol. However, intoxication isn't the only reason why a bicyclist could swerve. A heavy gust of wind, fatigue, loss of balance, a piece of debris, and many other factors could lead to this behavior as well.
To learn more about your rights after a cycling under the influence arrest, contact an Orange County DUI lawyer from the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc.