Rather than running the risk of driving drunk after an evening at the bar, you opt to ride your bike to the bar and back. After some drinks, you hop on your bicycle and head home as planned. For whatever reason, you are stopped by a law enforcement officer who then suspects that you are under the influence. Can they arrest you for DUI while on a bicycle?
Unfortunately, the answer is yes.
While a person can be arrested, charged, and convicted for riding a bicycle under the influence, it is not under the same law as your typical California DUI, which comes from California Vehicle Code section 23152.
According to California Vehicle Code section 21200.5, “…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…”
The penalties for bicycling under the influence includes a fine of no more than $250 and no jail time. The penalties for driving a vehicle while under the influence, on the other hand, include up to $1,000 in fines and up to six months in jail.
While the penalties for bicycling under the influence are significantly less than that of a DUI in a vehicle, a conviction for California Vehicle Code section 21200.5 is still a misdemeanor which stays on the cyclist’s criminal record.
Needless to say, an arrest for bicycling under the influence is serious, albeit less serious than a DUI in a vehicle, and requires the experience of a California DUI attorney to fight the prosecutor and the court on your behalf.