When you think of driving under the influence or DUI, what image comes to mind? You probably imagine a driver of a motor vehicle getting stopped by police. You are partially correct. In California, intoxicated drivers are not allowed to operate any type of motor vehicle. So you would think you are making a good, safe choice by riding a bicycle after having alcoholic beverages, right? Wrong. The good deed cost you. Although DUI law in the state of California does not include bicycles, another law does. California Vehicle C 2100.5 makes it unlawful for anyone to ride a bicycle while under the influence of any alcoholic beverage and/or drug.
Unlike driving under the influence while operating a motor vehicle, there is no set legal limit. For instance, the blood alcohol concentration level in California is 0.08 percent. Any BAC at or over that limit will result in a DUI charge. However, there is no BAC legal limit for bicycling under the influence.
Field Sobriety Tests and Bicycling Under the Influence
When a police officer stops you on suspected bicycling under the influence, he or she may ask you to complete field sobriety tests. These standardized tests involve walking and turning and watching a ball point pen without moving your head. These tests are designed so that an intoxicated driver fails.
Unfortunately, many police officers do not tell cyclists or drivers that taking a field sobriety test is optional. If you refuse, you will not face any penalties such as fines or license suspension. Another thing police and prosecutors will not tell you is that these tests are hard for sober individuals to successfully complete.
Implied Consent and Bicycling Under the Influence
State law also requires anyone operating a vehicle to undergo chemical testing if arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This is something you cannot refuse to do. You have already given consent. California does not requires you to provide verbal consent. Each time you ride a bicycle or drive a vehicle you give California consent to give you a chemical test when you are suspected of DUI. California Vehicle Code 13353 makes it illegal to refuse the chemical test.
You can refuse the chemical test, but it will lead to numerous penalties. For instance, your license is suspended for one year. A second refusal within 10 years is a two-year suspension. Even if you are proven innocent of DUI, your license remains suspended. If you are found guilty or plead guilty to DUI, you face other penalties in addition to the ones listed for refusing a chemical test.
Under the Influence and Driving Other Types of Vehicles
The state specifically prohibits bicycling while under the influence. Unfortunately, the state’s general DUI laws leave room to include other vehicles. For instance, a police officer can arrest you for DUI for operating an ATV while intoxicated. According to California law, an ATV can be considered a motor vehicle. Other types of “motor vehicles” include golf carts, go carts, mopeds and riding lawn mowers.
Bicycling while under the influence does not have severe penalties like driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. However, there is no reason you should not fight the charge. Contact the Law Offices of Jonathan Franklin to learn more about how we will aggressively fight this charge for you. We offer a free consultation and are available to meet with you evenings and weekends.