The question ‘Can you get a DUI on a bike?’ is something we’ve all wondered at some part of our lives. The short answer is: yes, you can get a DUI on a bike.
In the USA, you can be stopped for riding a bicycle if you are suspected of being under the influence of alcohol. This is true for all US States from Alabama to Wyoming.
You can also be detained for exhibiting behavior that makes you a danger to yourself or others. Police officers have the right to detain individuals on a bike whom they believe may be intoxicated.
In terms of legal status, a DUI on a bike is labeled as a type of offense related to public intoxication or endangerment. While not all states apply a “DUI” to a drunk bicycle riding offense, this is just an issue of legal labeling.
In every US state, you can be stopped, detained, arrested, or charged for riding a bicycle while intoxicated. But depending on the state, it might not always be labeled as a DUI.
The Concept of DUI
DUI, or driving under the influence, is defined as operating a vehicle while impaired and under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Under the influence of alcohol, the legal limit of alcohol intoxication is defined by blood alcohol concentration (BAC). In all states except for Utah, it is illegal to drive with a BAC of 0.08% or higher. In Utah, the BAC limit is 0.05%. (source)
Another crucial point is that “driving” is defined as getting behind the wheel of a vehicle in almost all cases. You do not necessarily need to be moving to be considered legally driving, especially under the influence.
You may have heard other related terms such as driving while intoxicated (DWI), operating under the influence (OUI), operating while intoxicated (OWI), or driving while ability impaired (DWAI).
In most cases, the legal definitions of these terms are nearly identical. The final decision is made based on the specific situation, state, and prosecuting attorney.
Most US states count drunk driving as a misdemeanor, with repeat offenders running the risk of facing felony charges. DUI charges may also depend on the BAC level at the time of the incident. Drivers with a BAC of more than 0.15% may face harsher penalties, even for a first offense.
See more: Bike Statistics and Facts
BAC is typically determined using a breathalyzer, but can also be found using a blood or urine test.
States Where It’s Possible To Get A DUI Charge
It is possible to get a DUI on a bicycle in every US state. The penalties for riding a bicycle under the influence of drugs or alcohol are typically the same as operating a vehicle under the influence.
Legally, a bicycle is considered a vehicle. In rare cases, a state or prosecutor may distinguish between motor vehicles and vehicles. That could mean that a bicycle would fall outside the legal definition of a vehicle. When it comes to e-bikes, the case could get complicated.
So, in which states can you get a DUI on a bicycle?
All you need to know is that it is possible to get a DUI while riding a bicycle.
Related: Bicycle Safety Facts, Tips & Rules
Frequently Asked Questions
Riding a bike drunk is legally equivalent to operating a vehicle while intoxicated and is thus considered a DUI. You can be stopped, detained, or arrested if you are suspected of riding a bicycle under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Drunk bike riding can be punished just as harshly as any other DUI.
The penalties for riding a bike drunk vary from state to state, but they all involve an administrative license suspension on the first offense and may involve limited driving privileges during the suspension.
The length of the administrative license suspension on first offense varies from 30–90 days in most states, up to 6 months in some states. Penalties are often harsher for those with a higher BAC (at least 0.15%) at the time of the DUI, or for offenders under the age of 21.
Most states have limited driving privileges during the suspension, often for 30 days. Some states add an ignition interlock device or driver’s license to the punishment.
It is possible to be stopped, detained, and breathalyzed on a bicycle. Police officers who suspect you may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol can stop you at any point, especially if they believe you are a danger to yourself or others.
It is unlikely that you will lose your license for being drunk on a bicycle on the first offense. For repeat offenders, it is possible to lose your license for being drunk on a bicycle. Most states have an administrative license suspension on the first DUI offense, but it would take an extreme case to lose your license on the first offense.
Riding an electric bike is defined as operating a vehicle, and in most cases, also operating a motor vehicle. That means that riding an electric bike drunk is legally equivalent to driving a car or riding a bicycle while drunk. Thus, the punishments for a DUI on an electric bike are just as harsh as any other DUI punishment.