Can you really be arrested for riding your bicycle while drunk?


In Los Angeles today, 5 bicyclists were arrested for DUI.  Can you really get a DUI for riding your bicycle.?  The first question that must be answered is whether a bicycle is a “vehicle” within the meaning of Vehicle Code § 670.

Vehicle Code § 670 states that “[a] “vehicle” is a device by which any person or property may be propelled, moved, or drawn upon a highway, excepting a device moved exclusively by human power or used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks.”

So, the answer is no.  A bicycle is not considered a vehicle within the meaning of the DUI statute Vehicle Code § 23152(a) or (b).  Unfortunately it does not end here.

Knowing that you might be drinking a little too much to be safe behind the wheel of a car you ride your bike thinking you’ll play it safe.  I can’t be a danger on the road if I ride my bicycle.  I’m a good citizen. Right?  Well, not according to our smart law makers.

There is a specific section of the Vehicle Code that makes it a misdemeanor to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.  What is this ridiculous law?   Vehicle Code § 21200.5 is the nanny state law that allows an officer to arrest you for riding your bicycle while having a little too much to drink. Usually a misdemeanor has the possibility of jail. Under  Vehicle Code § 21200.5, you cannot be fined more than $250.

What’s next?  Chewing gum while under the influence?

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18 Responses to Can you really be arrested for riding your bicycle while drunk?

  1. Dana says:

    I was accused of hitting a parked vehicle while riding my Mt. Bike. I had a few beers that afternoon and was returning from the store on my bike when I was confronted by the owner of the vehicle. He was irrate and I tried to get to the bottom of things because I did not recall hitting his vehicle. I was not injured and there wan’t a scratch on my bike. He said he was calling the police and told me he didn’t want to talk to me and just go home which was a few doors down. I went home, put my bike away and sat on my couch to watch T.V. and was drinking another beer. Within about 15 min. I noticed police cars on the street. I walked out of my house and was approached by 2 officers that began to question me about the incident. They detected alcohol on my breath and I told them I had been drinking beer. I brought them into my home and showed them my bike had no damage and showed them I had no injuries. I didn’t recall causing damage to the vehicle but they said they had witness’. They gave me a sobriety test and arrested me for DUI. The officers didn’t witness me riding my bike so how could I be taken from my home and arrested? Thank you for any information.

  2. duck says:

    How is this an outrage? Riding a bike while drunk can get you hurt. There is no argument that you could fall or hit something while sober, let alone while intoxicated. The problem is that you are going fairly fast and, unlike stumbling around while intoxicated, you could swerve into traffic and get yourself and motorists severely injured or killed.

    • sdfasdfaasdfasasdf says:

      The government shouldn’t have to tell you right from wrong, people need to grow up and stop listening to these old farts in your capitols.

    • Josh says:

      Riding a bike while sober can get you hurt. Also, You dont think you could “stumble around” and trip into traffic? That must be impossible right? It’s better they ride a bike then drive. But you’re right, No matter your transportation you could hurt yourself or others. And this includes sober and not sober individuals. It’s called “accidents happen”. Also, It has nothing to do with an individual. Governments just thrive on taking money however they can. That’s why these dumb laws exist.

    • Douglas L Self says:

      If you’re an idiot and attempt to ride a bike while impaired, the only issue ought to be whether you were causing harm to others, or in reasonable danger of doing so. Not only does the “Nanny State” not have the responsibility for your safety, it cannot penalize you for simple errors in judgment that could potentially cause harm to yourself ONLY. Only in an overt situation where self-harm (or suicide, obviously the most extreme form of self-harm) is intended does the State have authority to intervene, and even that under the Welfare and Institutions code, not the Penal code.

  3. Lucky says:

    It is shameful how we are converting anyone who drinks, even just a sip, into the category of drunks. Our government is bullying people who drink because they are easy targets. Drowsy driving kills more people. Speeding kills more people. Cellphones while driving kill more young people and that problem is only getting worse. Yet, we don’t have any strict measures in place for people who commit these road violations.

    We have a dumbed down population at large who buy into MADD propaganda stating that “half of all roadway fatalities are alcohol related.” This simply is not true, and not anywhere near the truth.

    Of the 10,000 people killed in these alcohol related crashes…
    -2,000 were drunk pedestrians killed by sober drivers.
    -3,000 were single vehicle accidents.
    -1,000 were suicides.

    These same MADD organizations claim that unconstitutional DUI checkpoints “reduce road fatalities by 20%.”

    This is, however, another contrived claim that has no backbone. In fact, DUI checkpoints actually kill many more people than they save. Just recently, at one of our beloved DUI checkpoints in this country a completely sober driver rear ended another completely sober driver, killing 3 people including 2 children. These people would not have been killed had there not been an illegal checkpoint stop. These checkpoints kill many more people because they consolidate policing resources into one area, instead of spreading out where they could actually make the roads safer.

    2 billion drives will occur this year after drinking… 1.5 million people will be arrested as a result.

    Do the math here and you will see that there is no epidemic. Alcohol related fatalities were going down for decades due to safer vehicles and smarter awareness… NOT because of harsher laws against DUI offenders. Don’t believe me? In 2000 the federal BAC limit was reduced from .1% to .08%. As a result of this, for the first time in decades alcohol related crash fatalities rose sharply. The old proverb rings true; “The more prohibitions you have, the less virtuous the people will be.”

    All traffic stops are DUI stops. The first, second, or third question out of the officers mouth is; “Have you had anything to drink today?” -If you answer yes… You will be arrested for DUI.

    1 out of 10 arrests are for DUI. Many people get convicted of DUI even though their BAC is far below the legal limit. Many people get convicted of DUI even though they have no alcohol in their system. If you have alcohol in your system and you are involved in a crash… it does NOT matter who caused that crash. You will be found as the culprit of causing that crash for having any trace of alcohol in your system.

    Nay… The tale grows worse. The NHTSA has recently been attempting to reduce the Blood Alcohol Content legal threshold from .08% to .05%. This new threshold will come to pass soon as we continue to trade our freedoms for securities in this country. All the while, victims mothers will be holding up pictures of children killed in horrible drunk driving tragedies, championing stricter laws against “drunk driving.” The saddest part here is that none of these efforts will take the real threat of drunk drivers off the streets, they will only convert more responsible drinkers into the category of “drunk driver.” It will destroy their lives in the process.

    • kornaz says:

      Agree 100%!

      • Victoria says:

        I got a DUI just for weaving. There was no accident or injury involved…no sobriety test was given. I believe I would have passed and the officer knew that. This is my first and only criminal offense and now I will be losing my drivers license for 2 years. I have over $2,000 in fines and went to DUI school. I am not saying I shouldn’t think or be held accountable…but this is a little over the top.

  4. Mary Kaelin says:

    My son got a DUI at 17 for drinking. He got one at 21 for having weed in his system from the day before. He is in jail for 90 days at this moment. Just received paperwork yesterday for a 3rd DUI for riding a bike. That is 1yr in prison. He was obviously hit by a car and left on the side of the road unconscious with 3 broken facial bones. His life is ruined by this stuff. The court house is filled with white suburban men ages 21 to 70. The drunks I know, drive every day. These people don’t but their lives are ruined, job loss, home loss, fines no one can afford. Their families end up on food stamps and we all pay $38,000 a yr each to keep them in jail. It’s all about money.

    • Nicole says:

      I had a drunk person on a bike swerve in front of my car. I injured my 1 year old son trying not to hit the drunk bicyclist. Not only did your son not take anyone elses life into consideration but he then did it again. Maybe you should stop concentrating on how to get him out of things and start concentrating on teaching him to consider how his decisions affect others.
      If he wants to get drunk or high then he needs to stay where he is or have a sober driver on hand. If he can not do one of those things then he deserves to be in jail.

      • Josh says:

        You realize weed is in your system from 2 weeks to 4 depending on a bunch of different factors. And alcohol is in your blood for up to 3 days. You could be totally sober and still get a DUI. Dont mark everyone else on your rare incident. How would you feel if your son got a dui later in life in dumb circumstances? Answer that to yourself before putting a retarded answer like yours. I understand that you tried to avoid the bicyclist and your a caring parent. But you dont decide what choices your kid makes. And you never will, no matter what. Sorry but your answer is inconsiderate and cruel. Think of how you would feel if it was your son. And dont think he’ll grow up to be the best kid ever. Because he won’t. Kids do dumb shit. Its part of growing up. Sorry, not sorry.

      • Daniel says:

        Your an ass if it was your son you would be screaming bloody murder about how they are being unjust to your kid funny how things get put into perspective changes when your kid becomes a target for overzealous law enforcement agents don’t be a hypocrite yet you still have a long way to go with your own so don’t judge u may find yourself in a similar situation and someone who doesn’t know your kid saying he deserves to be in jail lmao what’s that gonna do make them better criminals come on people use your brains jail is for murderers and rapists and people who are dangerous they just see brow anybody in there anymore because the justice system is broken and runs on a revolving door policy or else they would be out of business just remember your towns, city’s,anywhere u live will be incorporated and run as a business same with police depts no income no jobs so let’s find every way to strongarm our hard working citizens out of their hard earned money with gestapo tactics open your eyes we have no freedom it’s an illusion to keep from revolution not to mention all you lazy fuckers couldn’t come together to do anything let alone the government it’s a fucking joke really.

    • Jeff says:

      “F0r having weed in his system from the day before” is the biggest load of bullshit I’ve ever heard. You’re son is a good for nothing pothead who deserves everything he gets

      • Josh says:

        Your comment is the biggest load of bullshit I’ve ever heard. Do some research before being an asshole to someone who’s situation you dont understand. The only thing “pot” does is slow your reaction time. And we’re talking by the tiniest fraction. Youre a good for nothing human being who deserves whatever bad things karma has in mind for you.

      • Mateo says:

        Jeff is an judgmental nobody, who is stupid enough to believe everything his government and it’s media apparatchiks tells him, who deserves everything bad he gets *right up his tight asshole* .

  5. Spike says:

    I just got pulled over at 3am drunk on my bike riding thru town, I have horrible insomnia and I decided to have a bottle of wine. The officer was really nice and wondered what I was doing out that late for my safty, I just explained I had a tough time sleeping and exercise always seem to help. He ran my name and off I went with an open container!!! Not sure if I was super lucky or he just didn’t care. Just thought I would share my story

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