Can you be charged with driving under the influence under California’s DUI law, California Vehicle Code section 23152, when riding a bicycle? Simply put, no. A bicycle is not considered a vehicle under the code and is therefore not subject to laws that pertain only to vehicles such as California Vehicle Code section 23152. Does riding a bike while intoxicated still pose a danger to riders and the public? Yes. That is why in 1985 the California Legislature added section 212500.5 to the California Vehicle Code.
California Vehicle Code section 212500 states in pertinent part, “…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 and any drug. Any person arrested for a violation of this section may request to have a chemical test made of the person’s blood, breath, or urine for the purpose of determining the alcoholic or drug content of that person blood…” Although language of California Vehicle Code section 212500.5 is extremely similar to 23152, the potential ramifications of a conviction differ significantly. A charge of 212500.5 is classified as a misdemeanor and if convicted maximum fine is $250 with no jail time. Note that there are several additional infractions that may be charged if you are improperly riding your bike on a public road. For example, you must be riding a bicycle that is properly equipped under California Vehicle Code section 21201, which is many times the basis for a cycling stop by officers. Moreover, you may also be charged with California Penal Code section 647(f) “Drunk in Public.”
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