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What You Need to Know About Bicycling While Drunk

You might think "driving under the influence" and "DUI" strictly refer to operating a motor vehicle. This is true, but California law prohibits intoxicated drivers from operating other types of vehicles too, such as motorcycles, boats, and bicycles.

Under Section 21200.5 of the California Vehicle Code, 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. Under Sec. 21200.5, it says that it is “unlawful for any person to ride a bicycle upon a highway while under the influence of an alcoholic beverage or any drug, or under the combined influence of an alcoholic beverage an any drug.”

Cycling under the influence (CUI) 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, which could affect housing and employment for years to come.

California’s Implied Consent Law

Under California’s CUI law, if 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.

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; therefore, refusing to submit to chemical testing can lead to the same legal penalties faced by drivers.

Refusing a chemical test can lead to an automatic driver license suspension regardless of the outcome of your case. In the event of a conviction, you could face jail time, even though your case involved a bicycle, not an actual motor vehicle.

Generally, it is unwise to refuse to submit a blood, breath, or urine test after any DUI arrest, including bicycling under the influence. The prosecution may use your refusal against you as evidence of “guilt.” If you take the test, a skilled DUI attorney can help build the best possible defense while seeking a positive outcome on your behalf.

OTHER TYPES OF 'VEHICLES'

In California, Sec. 21200.5 specifically 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 applies 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!