It is reasonable to wonder if riding a bicycle while intoxicated could result in a DUI charge? The question is especially relevant to college students, many of whom opt for a bike instead of a car to save money on gas and other auto expenses. Riding a bike after drinking may even seem like a logical alternative to hopping in your car and risking a DUI. After all, ‘riding' is not ‘driving,' and the stakes are not as high as operating a motor with the potential to exact serious damage if it crashes.
However, anyone with this logic would be mistaken. Under Georgia law, in many ways, a bicycle is treated like a vehicle. Therefore, the answer is: yes, you could get cited for DUI while riding intoxicated on a bike. However, the penalties would not be the same as if you were cited for DUI while driving a motorized vehicle. Just as bicyclists must follow all other rules of the road, they may not be under the influence while riding. Understandably, an intoxicated rider will have slower reflexes and may ride poorly recklessly, putting themselves at risk for an accident or worse.
Under O.C.G.A. 40-6-291, a bicycle DUI is an ordinary misdemeanor and your driving privileges are not in jeopardy. There is no administrative license suspension imposed for DUI on a bicycle. Still, this does not necessarily mean you should plead guilty if charged. Even ordinary misdemeanors will go on your criminal record, which could reflect negatively on you in future job searches or efforts to obtain insurance. You should absolute retain a skilled DUI attorney and fight the charge.
While it remains difficult to spot intoxicated cyclists incidents have happened in Georgia and the greater United States. In 2014, a man was stopped by police in Athens-Clarke county for failing to use a headlight. During the stop, police noticed a strong odor of alcohol on the man's breath. After refusing to submit to a breath test, the man was eventually charged with DUI Less Safe on a Bicycle. It is the good fortune of Georgia residents that their driving privileges are not at stake for bike DUIs; a man in Ohio received a 6-month license suspension after an officer noted alcohol on his breath while he walked his bike across his lawn. Different states vary in their definition of ‘vehicle' when considering DUI charges; Georgia includes it, but not with such stringent penalties. The scope of the DUI statute does extend beyond highways, so do not make the mistake of thinking you are in the clear if you ride intoxicated in a residential area, for example.
Like any DUI stop, the officer must first have probable cause before pulling the vehicle over. In both the cases cited above, the stop was prompted by the bicyclist failing to use the mandatory headlight. If you ride a bike in Georgia, it is imperative that you equip your bike with the necessary headlight to avoid getting stopped and cited by police.
If you have been charged with a DUI while riding a bicycle, you will need a top-rated DUI attorney to handle your case. Do not hesitate to contact DeKalb County DUI Attorney Richard Lawson as soon as possible to begin a free consultation on your case.