Can You Get a DUI When Riding a Bicycle?
Exploring the law, consequences, and your rightsBy Benjy Schirm, J.D. | Reviewed by Canaan Suitt, J.D. | Last updated on November 8, 2023
Use these links to jump to different sections:
- Understanding DUI Laws for Bicycles
- Consequences of Riding a Bike While Under the Influence
- Preventing and Defending Against Biking DUI Offenses
- Find an Experienced DUI Defense Lawyer
Driving under the influence of alcohol not only risks serious injury to yourself and others—it can lead to serious legal consequences.
But say you’re not driving a car—you’re riding your bicycle. Is drinking and biking illegal? The answer is that it depends on your state’s laws:
- Some DUI laws are limited to motor vehicles. In these states, you could get a DUI for driving a car or motorcycle, for example, but not a manual-powered bicycle, since they don’t have an engine.
- Other state DUI laws are phrased in such a way as to include bicycles—for example, they refer to “vehicles” instead of “motor vehicles” as a mode of transportation.
- There’s also a split in how courts interpret state DUI laws that mention vehicles. Some state courts have said that DUI laws do apply to bicycles, while others have said they don’t.
- Some states have separate DUI laws that explicitly address bicycles.
Even if you can’t get a DUI for biking while intoxicated in your state, you could still be charged with other offenses, such as public intoxication. And regardless of any criminal charges, it’s simply unsafe to operate any type of transportation while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. According to the CDC, approximately one-third of fatal bicycle crashes involve alcohol for the bicyclist and/or driver.
States where you can get a DUI for intoxicated cycling include California, Colorado, Florida, and Pennsylvania. This article looks at the example of another state where you can get a bicycle DUI: Georgia. Regardless of where you live, if you’re facing DUI charges for drinking and biking or driving in your state, consider speaking with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
Understanding DUI Laws for Bicycles
Georgia is one of the states where you can get a DUI on a bicycle.
In some states, lawmakers draft the laws to include only motor vehicles, but Georgia’s are written in a way that includes bikes in its definition of “vehicle.”
The same blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit applies to all moving vehicles:
- 0.08 percent for those over 21 years of age;
- 0.02 percent for those under 21; and
- 0.04 percent for those driving commercial vehicles.
Consequences of Riding a Bike While Under the Influence
The penalties for a DUI in Georgia can be steep:
- Fines of no less than $300 and up to $1,000;
- No less than 10 days in jail and up to 12 months (which can be stayed by a judge);
- No less than 40 hours of community service;
- A mandatory DUI Alcohol or Drug Use Risk Reduction Program
The penalties for biking under the influence are not the same as those for getting a DUI in a car. Both are considered misdemeanors, but you do not face driver’s license suspension if you are caught biking drunk.
Despite any positives to biking home rather than driving home, a misdemeanor charge can negatively impact the rest of your life. Every job you apply for may ask about it, any professional or graduate school may investigate it, and a DUI conviction will be a mark on your permanent record.
Preventing and Defending Against Biking DUI Offenses
The best way to avoid a bicycle DUI is obviously to not bike after drinking. There are other ways to stay out of trouble as a bicyclist—namely, to follow all traffic laws when biking. In Georgia, that includes:
- At night, cyclists should have a red flashing light facing behind them and a white light that extends in front.
- The bike laws only require people under the age of 16 to wear a helmet.
- Riding your bike on the sidewalk is also illegal.
If you find yourself in the unfortunate circumstance of being arrested with a bicycle DUI, there are several defenses available to fight the allegations.
For example, breathalyzers and field sobriety tests at DUI arrests are often challenged for their accuracy and admissibility as evidence, as is the handling of blood tests at labs. The legitimacy of a traffic stop can be challenged, as well as the police officer’s testimony.
Find an Experienced DUI Defense Lawyer
If you’re facing DUI charges for biking—or driving—while intoxicated, it’s important to contact a law firm and talk to an experienced DUI attorney for legal advice. Many lawyers provide free consultations to learn about your case before starting the attorney-client relationship.
Search the Super Lawyers directory for an experienced DUI defense lawyer in your area.
If you’d like more general information about this area of the law, see our DUI/DWI law overview.
Additional DUI Life Impacts and Other Areas articles
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