Can You Get a DUI on a Bicycle? All You Need to Know

Can You Get a DUI on a Bicycle? All You Need to Know

As someone who loves cruising around town on two wheels just as much as the next cyclist, I know we all like to have a few beers or cocktails before hopping in the saddle and heading out for a night ride.

But have you ever wondered if you can get a DUI while riding your bike after a few drinks?

I used to think there was no way I could get busted for biking under the influence.

After all, I wasn’t operating a car!

But it turns out some places actually can charge you with a DUI equivalent if you’re riding drunk.

Who knew!

In this article, I’ll break down everything you need to know about biking while buzzed.

We’ll look at places like California and Florida to see what their DUI laws say about bicycles.

And we’ll talk about whether a bike DUI is as serious as drinking and driving a car.

So let’s jump in.

Can You Get a DUI on a Bicycle?

This is the million-dollar question!

In most states, biking under the influence is perfectly legal.

There are no laws against riding your bike home from the bar after knocking back a few IPAs or margaritas.

However, some places are starting to crack down on drunk cycling.

States like California, Florida, Oregon, and others have added bicycles to their DUI or DWI laws.

So in certain spots around the country, you can in fact get charged with a DUI equivalent on your bike.

How can they give a DUI to someone just cruising around on a bicycle?

It comes down to the definition of “vehicle” in the law.

Some states define vehicles broadly to include motorcycles, scooters, bikes, and more.

So yeah, your bicycle counts as a vehicle in the eyes of the law!

Now that seems kind of silly to me.

As long as you’re not being reckless and just biking home, is there really any harm?

But I don’t make the rules, so it’s important to know what your state’s laws are regarding DUIs and bicycles.

Let’s look at some specific examples.

Can You Get DUI for Riding Bike Drunk in California?

If you’re biking home buzzed in the Golden State, beware!

Here in California, you can definitely get a DUI while riding your bicycle drunk.

California Vehicle Code 21200 states that bicyclists have all the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicle drivers.

This includes obeying the rules of the road and all traffic laws – like the laws against riding under the influence.

Under California law, a bicycle is considered a “vehicle” when it comes to DUIs.

So if your blood alcohol content is over 0.08% while operating a bike, you can be arrested and charged with a DUI.

If your blood alcohol content is over 0.08% while operating a bike, you can be arrested and charged with a DUI

The penalties are the same as if you’d been driving a car, including fines, license suspension, DUI classes, and possible jail time.

And California cops really do look for and arrest drunk bicyclists!

I remember my buddy got pulled over and arrested for a DUI while weaving home on his bike one night after too many beers.

So be smart if you’re riding in Cali – get an Uber, take public transit, or walk your bike if you’ve had more than a few.

A DUI is not worth ruining your ride!

Can You Get a DWI on a Bicycle in Florida?

Yep, Florida is another state where you can get slapped with a DUI (which they call DWI) for riding your bike while drunk.

Under Florida Statute 316.2065, a bicycle rider is considered a “vehicle operator.”

This means all under-the-influence laws apply to bikes just as they would to a car or motorcycle.

So if you’re cycling home while intoxicated and a cop sees you swerving, falling over, or violating any other traffic laws, you could be arrested for biking under the influence.

The penalties are the same, too – fines, license suspension, ignition interlock device, and possibly jail time.

Florida police have definitely been known to arrest people for DWIs on their bicycles.

One woman was charged with a DUI after she was spotted cycling unsteadily and then failed a field sobriety test.

So ride cautiously after drinking in the Sunshine State!

Can You Get a DUI on a Bicycle in Illinois?

Yep, under Illinois law, bicycles are considered “vehicles” when operated on public roads.

So all the DUI statutes apply to bikes too, not just cars.

Crazy right?

The specific law is Section 11-501 of the Illinois Vehicle Code.

It says it’s illegal to ride a bicycle with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher.

If cops see you pedaling unsteadily or breaking other traffic laws, they can pull you over and make you take a sobriety test.

Fail that and you’ll be arrested for biking while drunk in IL.

Penalties include up to $2,500 in fines, 2 years license suspension, and even jail time for first offense.

Yikes!

Back in my college days, I got stopped once for wobbling home on my bike after the bars closed.

Got lucky with just a warning, but that was a wake-up call to stop buzzed cycling!

So avoid the temptation in IL, guys and gals.

A DUI conviction will harsh your mellow for years to come!

What is The Charge for Being Drunk on a Bike?

If you do get busted while riding drunk, what exactly will you be charged with?

In states with laws against BUIs, it will likely be the equivalent of a DUI or DWI charge.

Other possibilities are:

  • Public intoxication
  • Reckless cycling
  • Reckless endangerment
  • Disorderly conduct

If your drunken biking caused an accident, you could face additional charges like assault or vehicular manslaughter.

Not to mention huge civil liability if you injured or killed someone while riding wasted.

The specifics vary by location, but the penalties are similar to driving a car drunk:

  • Fines up to $1000+
  • License suspension
  • Ignition interlock device
  • Probation
  • Jail time
  • Mandatory DUI classes

Plus your insurance rates will likely go way up after a bike DUI conviction.

As you can see, it’s just not worth the risk of riding buzzed in states where it’s illegal!

Is Biking Under the Influence as Bad as a DUI in a Car?

An interesting question!

I mean surely cruising home on your bike after a few beers isn’t nearly as dangerous as getting behind the wheel of a car while drunk, right?

While it may not seem as bad, the law sees it differently in states where DUIs apply to cyclists.

No matter your mode of transport, operating any vehicle while intoxicated is illegal.

To a cop, a drunk on a bike has the potential to cause just as much harm and damage as a drunk driver.

An out-of-control cyclist can swerve into traffic, hit pedestrians, crash and injure themselves, damage property, and more.

Is the risk as high as driving a car drunk?

Probably not, since bikes don’t go nearly as fast.

But the law has to draw a line against operating any vehicle while intoxicated, whether it’s a bike, car, scooter, or skateboard.

My opinion?

There are safer ways to get home after drinking than risking a bike DUI.

Get an Uber, take the bus, or walk with your bike.

Or better yet – avoid biking to the bar if you plan on getting plastered!

Final Thoughts

Well there you have it – my complete guide to biking under the influence laws and the risk of getting a DUI on your bicycle.

I hope this breakdown helps you stay safe and legal on your future rides home from the pub!

The key takeaways: In most states, it’s perfectly legal to bike home buzzed.

But some places like California and Florida can and will charge you with a DUI for riding drunk.

The penalties are similar to a car DUI.

So proceed with caution after downing drinks, especially in strict states.

Ride smart my fellow cyclists!

Never Let a DUI Kill Your Ride.

We all love cruising around town on our bikes – so enjoy a few beers, but limit it so you stay sober enough to ride safely and legally.

Always opt for a rideshare, bus, or hoofing it if you’ve had more than a couple.

Alright, that’s my PSA on bike DUIs!

Let me know if you have any other cycling topics you’d like me to cover. Until then, stay safe and savvy out there!

Time to go hop on my bike – sober, of course 😉

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Joey B. Ramsey
Passionate cyclist, father, and blogger.
I've been riding bikes since childhood and enjoy sharing my knowledge with fellow cycling enthusiasts.
My diverse bike collection allows me to write reviews and advice based on personal experience with various bikes and accessories.
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