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Can You Be Arrested for Drunk Bicycling?

IL defense lawyerOne of the perks of living in and around a big city is that everything is within walking or biking distance. Traditionally, with the better weather of summer months comes an increase in cyclists. We also find a correlating rise in the number of cycling while intoxicated cases. The incidents do not occur often enough for everyone to know the Illinois repercussions; however, the episodes are not entirely uncommon either.

The Legal Answers

It is common knowledge that driving yourself home in a motor vehicle after having too much to drink is dangerous for yourself, your passengers, and for everyone else on the road. Most people opt to have a designated driver, a cab, or a ride share take them home in those circumstances. However, when the weather is right, a bike ride does not immediately seem like a poor decision. Yet, there are unperceived dangers as well as potential legal complications to doing so. Under Illinois State law, a vehicle is anything that transports a person or property from one location to another, except if it is human powered. Meaning, your feet, and your bicycles are not vehicles. Therefore, taking a bicycle home is unlikely to result in a DUI charge, since you are not operating a car. A DUI on a bicycle is only possible under the following conditions:

  • You are intoxicated over the legal drinking limit;
  • The bike is motorized; and
  • The bike is capable of traveling faster than 20 miles per hour.

The Dangers of Biking While Intoxicated

If the topic of biking while intoxicated comes up in social conversations, it may initially seem almost humorous. The stigma that follows drunk driving does not translate over into the cycling world, because most do not see the dangers. A car is capable of significant damage, including taking a life, which is why DUI is often perceived negatively. A bike does not always cause as much damage as a motor vehicle; however, the fatality rate is quite staggering.

The New York Times reported in 2009 that, in a study of bike accidents between 1996 and 2005, 21% of cyclists who died within three hours of a bike accident had alcohol in their system. Those numbers translate to slightly higher than one in five. There are further studies that further back up this data, but the fact is, alcohol impairs all motor functions, including the ability to ride a bike. Therefore, if there is a choice between getting a ride, walking or biking home, biking should not be at the top of the list.

Contact an Attorney

Although you cannot get a DUI while pedaling a bicycle while drunk, you can get a DUI while being in control of a motor vehicle. In court, many judges make examples of DUI cases by punishing the accused with maximum penalties. If you face DUI charges, a Wheaton, IL DUI defense attorney can help. The attorneys at Davi Law Group, LLC will aggressively negotiate on your behalf to ensure you retain your rights. Call 630-580-6373 today to get started with your personalized case review.

 

Sources:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/fulltext.asp?DocName=062500050K11-501

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/fulltext.asp?DocName=062500050K1-217

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