Many people think riding their bike home after a night of drinking is a safe alternative to getting behind the wheel of a car and potentially getting a drunk driving citation or causing a wreck.
As local DUI lawyers, we often get surprised clients asking, “Can you get a DUI on a bicycle in Florida?” The answer is yes — and there are several points to consider when considering the impact that intoxicated biking can have on your criminal record and freedom.
If you’ve received a DUI while riding a bike, we can help. Contact The Denson Firm today for a free initial consultation.
Being intoxicated in public is a misdemeanor offense in Florida, so if you’re riding your bike after drinking, you may be charged with that. In addition, Florida law treats biking under the influence the same as driving under the influence. So can you get a DUI riding a bike?
Yes. If you are above the legal limit for alcohol intoxication when you’re stopped on your bike, you can be cited and even arrested. Although riding your bike is fun and environmentally friendly, it’s still risky after you’ve been drinking.
There are about 800 bicycle accidents annually, and more than a third of those crashes involve alcohol. Furthermore, one out of five bikers that died in a traffic collision had a blood alcohol content (BAC) above the legal limit of 0.08. A BAC of over 0.08 can increase your chances of being involved in a bike crash by more than 2,000%.
If a cyclist is under the influence of alcohol and collides with a motor vehicle, they will likely suffer severe or even fatal injuries. If another person is injured in a DUI bike crash, the cyclist can be liable for the damages that person sustains. Finally, if someone dies from the accident, the cyclist can face a criminal charge of manslaughter.
So how can you get a DWI on a bike? Measuring intoxication for a DUI on a bike is the same as measuring the level of intoxication for a car or truck driver. The legal definition of intoxication is a concentration of alcohol in your blood of more than 0.08%.
If your BAC is 0.15 or higher, your DUI offense will be greater, and the penalties will be stiffer. If you cause injury to another person with a BAC over 0.15, you may also have additional criminal charges.
A DUI charge doesn’t just mean drinking, and the “influence” part of this charge implies under the influence of drugs, too.
You don’t have to be riding your bike to receive a citation. If your BAC is over the legal limit and you’re walking your bike in a public area, like the sidewalk or beach, you may get a citation for disorderly conduct or public intoxication.
Can you get a DUI on a bicycle in Florida and get arrested? The answer is yes. Florida bicycle laws grant bike riders the same privileges, rights, and responsibilities as any other vehicle on the Sunshine State roadways.
This means that anyone riding a bicycle on the road, including in a bike lane, must adhere to the same road rules as anyone else, including not operating the bike when intoxicated.
Suppose you are pulled over by a Florida police officer on suspicion of intoxication. In that case, you’ll undergo a field sobriety test and be asked to take a breath test to determine your level of intoxication. The penalties are the same as if you were driving under the influence, and many intoxicated bike riders will be arrested.
If you don’t have a prior record of DUIs, the first offense penalty is a fine between $500 and $1,000 and up to six months in jail. If you have a third or fourth DUI on a bike or a car, you’ll be charged with a felony, which means prison time.
You also will lose certain civil rights after your release from prison, including the right to vote and own a firearm. You will have a felony conviction on your record that potential employers and others will see on a background check.
Many people wonder, “Can you get a DUI on a pedal bike in any state?” No, each state has its laws about bicycling under the influence.
Florida law expressly excludes the word “motorized” from discussing DUI charges for people operating vehicles. Therefore, since operating any vehicle under the influence of alcohol is illegal in Florida, and a bike is a vehicle, it’s unlawful to operate a bike after becoming intoxicated.
The road laws of other states differentiate motorized vehicles from those that are not motor-powered, like pedal bikes. So in those states, operating a motorized bike under the influence would be illegal, but riding a bicycle after a few drinks wouldn’t be unlawful.
A DUI conviction could impact your ability to drive a car, get insurance for a vehicle or bike, or even get insurance coverage if you were injured while riding your bike. If you were drinking, crashed your bike, and got hurt, your health insurance company may deny your coverage claim, meaning your medical care would be out-of-pocket.
This isn’t the only way a bicycle DUI can cost you money. With fines starting at $500 and reaching as high as $5,000, a DUI is expensive. And you’ll carry the conviction of a DUI on your record, which could impact your job prospects, especially for jobs that involve driving. Your driver’s license could be suspended, and you may have to spend time in jail or prison.
A DUI defense lawyer can help. They understand your rights and what it takes to prove a DUI. Even if you are convicted, your Florida DUI attorney may be able to negotiate for lesser penalties for your charge or have it expunged after certain conditions are met.
You can’t afford to have a DUI on your permanent record forever. Call The Denson Firm today for a free case evaluation.