Can you be charged with a DUI on a bicycle?

Police Officer talking to a man

The following article is by the Decker Law Firm

Laws related to cycling or biking while under the influence in California are defined under California Vehicle Code section 21200.5 VC. The statute was added to the California Vehicle Code in 1985. This law prohibits bicycle riders to ride a bike while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both. Also referred to as CUI, or Cycling Under the Influence, the penalties for a CUI are less severe than a DUI in California. Like a DUI, a CUI is also classified as a misdemeanor and if you are convicted of CUI in California, it is going to add to your criminal record.

Penalties for a CUI in California

When someone is charged with a CUI in California, they will have to pay a fine. The offender will not be required to serve time in jail. Anyone under the age of 21-years convicted of cycling under the influence in California can have their driver’s license suspended.

Depending upon the consequences of the arrest, the offender may have to face additional charges. For example, the offender may be charged with Penal Code 647f “Drunk in Public.” This happens when the bicyclist is found to be so drunk that he or she is considered a security risk to themselves as well as to other people on the road.

Bicyclists are also required to follow a number of regulations when cycling on the road. If a bicyclist violates any of these regulations, they may be stopped by the officer. If the person happens to be riding around while under the influence of an intoxicant, then they can be charged with CUI.

Regulations for Cyclists

In California, cyclists are required to ride as close as possible towards the right-hand curb of the roadway. This is defined under California Vehicle Code § 21202.

Similarly, cyclists are also required to obey all traffic devices, such as traffic control signals exhibiting different colored lights or arrows. They must also abide by all the rules of the road which are applicable to other drivers.

If a cyclist is involved in a hit-and-run incident, they must identify themselves before leaving the scene of the accident.

A cyclist can be charged with an infraction if they fail to properly equip their bicycle. For example, the bicycle must have properly working brakes, lights, reflectors, handlebars, and so on. The use of unnecessary flashy lights on the bicycle should be avoided and may be considered unlawful unless the biker is a peace officer.

Defending a CUI in California

If you are facing a charge of cycling under the influence, you can use the same defenses which are used to fight other DUI cases. You will need to get in touch with a criminal defense attorney to bring up a strong defense when the prosecutor brings the CUI case.

Some common defenses which your attorney can come up with are:

  • You were not drunk or under the influence but were only riding around erratically
  • You may be showing suspicious signs such as watery eyes, flushed face, and so on, but those signs were not because you were drunk, but because of riding a bike on a hot day
  • Field sobriety tests are not an accurate measurement of impairment
  • The police officer failed to observe you for 15 minutes before a breath test was conducted
  • The arresting officer failed to follow Title 17 Regulations at the time of conducting the blood test

A CUI in California should not be taken lightly. Make sure you get in touch with a criminal defense attorney right away.

Author Bio:

Decker Law Firm represents motorists who have received traffic citations in Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, Suwannee, Columbia, and Baker Counties.