Many midnight revelers feel that they are doing their part by leaving the car in the garage at night and riding their bikes to the bar.
Unfortunately for them, Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) and Driving Under the Influence (DUI) laws still apply to cyclists in many states. In fact, the punishments can be just as severe for bikers as they can be for motor vehicle operators in cars and trucks.
Regardless of what vehicle you’re taking to and from your town’s main strip, you should be prepared for the worst. That means educating yourself on the value of bail bondsmen and the United States bond process. If you end up in the slammer in the wee hours of the morning, you can pay a bondsman a fraction of the bail price and still walk free. The bondsman puts up the rest of the fee and ensures that you attend court in the jurisdiction that you were arrested in. These bondsmen can be people, agencies, or even corporations.
State-by-State Regulatory Regime
The main thing to understand about drunk biking is that it is handled differently in every state. DUI and DWI laws are enforced by state officials and not by federal agents, so the language on each law is not precisely the same. A good rule of thumb for bicyclists would be to look at the precise language of the law of record in your state. If the law specifically mentions “motor vehicles”, cyclists are generally safe from being prosecuted as equal offenders under that law. However, if the law only mentions “vehicles” in general, and does not differentiate between motor and non-motor operation, drunk cyclists may be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
Why is Drunk Biking Considered Dangerous?
Cyclists often take issue with being lumped in with potential drunk drivers of cars and trucks. While it is true that an individual intoxicated cyclist cannot cause the level of damage that a drunk car or truck driver can, many people feel the rules of the road apply to everyone on it. As long as a cyclist can injure him or herself, the argument goes, they should be coerced to comply with relevant intoxicated driving statutes. Many legal observers compare drunk cycling laws to passenger seatbelt laws: a passenger without a seatbelt is only likely to hurt themselves and the other occupants of the automobile, but that chance of injury is enough for the state to step in and regulate behavior. Regulators have to examine the entire scope of the potential damage, and the impact that it might have on others.
Local Information is Key
If you are planning to ride your bicycle while intoxicated, it is an excellent idea to try to gather as much information as possible about the relevant laws in your state and community. This might involve speaking to a lawyer with experience prosecuting improper vehicular conduct. It also might involve a trip to City Hall to read the law for yourself, and determine what punishments or fines would be applicable to your situation. You can also speak with police to ascertain how they have handled similar situations in the past, and what they would do in a hypothetical drunk biking situation. Contacting experienced stakeholders in your community and arming yourself with knowledge is the best way to avoid a costly encounter with law enforcement and the legal system.
Be Smart, Be Safe
Drunk cyclists get into a disproportionate amount of bike accidents. Intoxication makes it dangerous to drive any vehicle, whether it is motorized or man-powered. If your state allows a certain level of drunk biking, and you choose to pursue it, make sure that you are prepared for the worst. Contact a skilled DUI attorney in order to better understand your case, and ensure that you know a local individual bail bondsman or company. Safety is the result of foresight, preparation and responsibility — don’t be caught unprepared.