After a night of drinking, you may think you are playing it safe by ‘technically’ not drinking and driving, and instead, choose to ride your bicycle home. But did you know you can get a DUI while riding a bicycle in Florida? Yes, you can be stopped for operating a vehicle (in this case a bike) for drunk driving.
While riding a bicycle may seem like a safer option, in reality, there are nearly 900 bike accidents a year — and alcohol was reported in over 35% of the fatal crashes. If you’re the one who causes an accident while riding under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substance, you may be held liable for that death and charged with DUI manslaughter.
Riding a bicycle under the influence in Florida is illegal and can have long-lasting consequences. If you are stopped on a bike for DUI, speak with an experienced lawyer about how to get your license back.
DUI on a Bicycle
In Florida, bicycles are seen the same way under law as motor vehicles. Florida Statute 316.003(75) defines a vehicle for law as anyway device that is used to transport a person or property on a highway (except vehicles that travel on stationary tracks). Specifically, it states that anyone riding a bike has all of the rights and all of the duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle.
With bicycles being seen as vehicles under Florida law, that means they are required to follow all of Florida’s road regulations including laws centered on driving under the influence.
While operating a car your blood alcohol content can be .08% to be considered legally intoxicated, cyclists in Florida must ride with a BAC over 0.10 to be arrested for biking under the influence.
When Does Law Enforcement Intervene?
Generally speaking, law enforcement is more concerned about DUIs occurring by motor vehicles than on bicycles due to the larger impact alcohol-related car crashes have on lives. But that is not to say that law enforcement does not take the time to stop and arrest a person that is under the influence while riding a bike.
Bicycle DUI arrests most often occur when there is either an accident that just happened, a citizen complaint, or a traffic infraction. In other words, the cyclist is attracting negative attention from their impaired behavior. Once the officer arrives at the scene and notices the bicyclist acting impaired, the officer will then conduct a thorough DUI investigation. A DUI investigation consists of the officer’s observations, the bicyclist’s statements or admissions, field sobriety tests, and witness statements.
The punishment for riding your bike when intoxicated will most likely be a fine. If officers feel the cyclist was/is a danger to himself and/or others, then they might make an arrest. The penalty for getting convicted of a DUI is a fine between $500 and $1,000, and up to six months in jail. If you’re a repeat offender, the penalties increase.
Consequences for a Bicycle DUI
Once a police officer concludes that the bicyclist is indeed under the influence of alcoholic beverages or controlled substances to the extent that their normal faculties are impaired then they are arrested and administered a breathalyzer. Just like while driving a motor vehicle, if the bicyclist has a blood alcohol content level over the limit, they will be charged with a DUI.
Remember, since Florida law currently views a bicycle the same as a motor vehicle, a person who is charged with a first-time DUI while on a bike will end up facing the same potential penalties that a first-time DUI motor vehicle driver would.
How Can a DUI Lawyer Help?
A DUI attorney can help mitigate your risk of lasting impacts of a DUI conviction. Depending on the specifics of your case, we may be able to question the field sobriety tests or breathalyzer device. If you refused a breathalyzer and took a urine or blood test, a lawyer can verify the accuracy of those tests. We may be able to have the charges reduced to reckless driving (a misdemeanor) or nolle prossed (dropped).
Every case is unique, consult with a veteran DUI lawyer to see how we can help your specific charges.
Charged with a DUI When Riding a Bike
Getting on your bike after a long night of drinking is not any better than getting behind the wheel of your car. Or, even sleeping it off in your car. If you are drinking, have a designated driver when you’re ready to go home.
Being charged with a bicycle DUI is not a laughable matter. It is just as serious as being charged with a DUI while driving a motor vehicle…and the consequences can be long-lasting as a DUI can remain on your record for up to 75 years in Florida.
You should never face these charges alone and you can lean on the attorneys at Stechschulte Nell Law. Our top-rated Tampa, FL DUI lawyer is by your side. Our legal team is experienced in all types of DUI cases, including ones while on a bicycle. Call us today at (813) 280-1244 to schedule a free case evaluation.