Can You Get a DUI On an Electric Bicycle?

DUI On an Electric Bicycle

As an avid ebike rider myself, I’ll admit the thought had crossed my mind – can you get a DUI on an electric bicycle?

I love cruising around on my ebike after hitting up a happy hour, but definitely don’t want to get slapped with a DUI!

So I decided to dig into the laws and legal precedents around drinking and bikes.

It turns out the answers aren’t always straightforward since regulations vary quite a bit across the country.

The laws are still catching up to emerging ebike technology!

In this article, I’ll walk through what I learned in plain English.

My goal is to help fellow ebike owners understand the risks so we can avoid DUIs and ride smart and safely, buzzed or sober!

Can You Drink On an E-bike?

First things first – yes, you obviously can physically drink alcohol while riding an ebike.

No one will tackle you off the bike for casually sipping a beer as you pedal along.

But is it legal to have open containers and be publicly intoxicated on an ebike?

That’s a gray area.

In many states, ebikes are legally classified as “motor vehicles” even though you pedal them like bikes.

So technically open container laws and public intoxication laws for cars also apply for ebikes in those areas.

Personally, I wouldn’t want to risk getting stopped with a drink in hand just because my ebike looks like a bicycle.

In my home state of California for example, cops can and will ticket you for open containers on bikes.

Chugging beers while riding is asking for trouble!

Of course, even in places where ebikes aren’t outright considered motor vehicles, you could still get in trouble for riding while visibly wasted and being a public nuisance.

So I like to use common sense – avoid binge drinking before I need to ride anywhere on my ebike.

This leads me to the question you’re probably wondering…

Can You Get a DUI On an Electric Bicycle?

This is where things get really tricky legally for us ebike owners.

In most states, yes – you can absolutely get a DUI while riding an electric bicycle if you are over the legal blood alcohol limit.

This surprised me at first.

Aren’t ebikes just beefed up cycles?

Turns out many DUI laws classify them as motor vehicles, so the same BAC rules and penalties apply.

Kinda like getting a DUI on a Vespa scooter vs. a car.

For example, take my home state of California again.

The CA Vehicle Code defines ebikes as “motorized bicycles” and says they qualify under DUI laws.

So I could get arrested if I’m riding my ebike buzzed over the 0.08% BAC limit here.


And in other states like NY, MN, VA, and more, ebikes fall under DUI or DWI laws as well.

Police won’t turn a blind eye just because you’re on a souped-up Schwinn and not in a car.

DUIs apply regardless.

So I don’t recommend drinking heavily at all if you need to ride your ebike later, even just back home from the bar.

Not worth risking a DUI!

Those criminal charges would seriously hinder my life.

Let’s look at some real-world examples from different states…

Can you get a DWI on an electric bike in New York State?


The NY State Vehicle and Traffic Law define ebikes as “motor vehicles” subject to DUI laws.

In fact, a Long Island man found this out the hard way in 2017.

He crashed his ebike into a tree at 2 AM and was arrested for DWI when police discovered he was intoxicated over the limit.


NY authorities don’t mess around with ebikes and DUIs.

Same rules as if you were driving a car drunk – fines, license suspension, potential jail time.

Not where I’d want to test my luck after a few beers!

Can You Get a DWI on an Electric Bike in Minnesota?

Yes, in Minnesota your ebike is considered a “motor vehicle” for DWI purposes too.

One Minnesotan, unfortunately, learned this after getting arrested for biking home tipsy from a bar on his ebike in 2020.

Police booked him for a DWI since his BAC was above 0.08.

I don’t want an embarrassing DWI arrest like that ruining my record and wallet!

I’ll be sure to leave my ebike parked if I’m drinking in MN.

Can You Get a DUI Electric Bicycle in Virginia?

Yep, in Virginia you can absolutely get a DUI while operating an ebike.

Their state code defines ebikes as “motor vehicles” subject to DUI laws and penalties.

And get this – a first-offense ebike DUI in VA can have penalties up to a $2,500 fine, 1-year license suspension, and even jail time up to 12 months!

Talk about severe consequences.

You couldn’t pay me to take the risk of riding my ebike in VA after more than a couple of drinks at the bar.

I’ll stick to pedal power and leave the motor off!

Can You Get a DUI on an Electric Bike in Florida?

Okay, here’s one state where the DUI laws are a bit more gray area when it comes to ebikes.

Under Florida Statute 316.2085, ebikes are NOT considered motor vehicles for DUI purposes.

So technically you CAN’T get a criminal DUI. Phew!

BUT – you can still get hit with a “BUI” – aka Biking Under the Influence!

It’s basically a less harsh civil offense similar to a DUI.

Still involves fines, license points, and possible bike impoundment.

For example, in Tampa the municipal code allows officers to ticket BUIs.

Not as bad as a DUI, but I’d recommend against drunkenly biking there regardless.

Just use your judgment.

Can You Get a DUI on an Electric Bike in California?

Back to my own state of CA – yes, we can absolutely get DUI charges on ebikes here.


Under California Vehicle Code 23229, ebikes are “motorized bicycles” subject to DUI laws and penalties.

If I get stopped riding my ebike buzzed in Los Angeles, I could get arrested and charged with a misdemeanor DUI.

And in San Diego for instance, police have written dozens of DUIs for drunk people on ebikes in recent years.

They even conducted an ebike DUI checkpoint sting operation!

Moral of the story – I’ll stick to pedaling cautiously and avoid more than a light buzz if riding my ebike in CA, even just around my neighborhood.

Don’t want to wake up to a DUI charge!

Final Thoughts

Phew, this legal maze of ebikes and DUIs is admittedly more complicated than I realized when I first got my electric bicycle.

Laws are all over the map between states and cities.

But in most areas, the safest bet is to avoid riding your ebike if you’ve had more than just a drink or two.

Police often treat ebikes as motor vehicles, meaning you could get slapped with an embarrassing DUI.

Instead of risking a BUI/DWI/DUI charge, spend a few bucks on an Uber or have a sober friend pedal your ebike home if you’re intoxicated.

Or just leave it parked and walk – good exercise anyway!

Your best bet is using good judgment if drinking alcohol and riding your ebike later.

Be responsible so we can all safely enjoy the wonderful world of electric bicycles for years to come!

And as always, wear a helmet and ride safely my friends! Let me know if you have any other ebike legal questions.

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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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