Can I Be Arrested for Riding a Bike While Intoxicated?

Criminal Defense
Can I Be Arrested for Riding a Bike While Intoxicated?

December 03, 2019

As a matter of fact, you can. The Indiana Criminal Code makes no distinction between different types of vehicles. This means that you can be arrested for operating a bicycle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The actual text of the law reads something like this:

A person who operates a vehicle with an alcohol concentration equivalent to at least eight-hundredths (0.08) gram of alcohol but less than fifteen-hundredths (0.15) gram of alcohol per:

(1) one hundred (100) milliliters of the person’s blood; or

(2) two hundred ten (210) liters of the person’s breath;

commits a Class C misdemeanor. (Indiana Code 9-30-5-1)

The law is clear insofar as it is ambiguous. What type of vehicle or whether that vehicle requires a motor is not a component of the law. Therefore, police can interpret the law to include bicycles, scooters, wheelchairs, mopeds, skateboards, hoverboards, segways, and just about anything else that is designed to transport you from one place to another.

How do People Get Arrested for Biking While Intoxicated?

You do not hear of people getting charged with biking while intoxicated very often. That is because the rules of criminal procedure require police officers to have probable cause before pulling over a cyclist (or anyone for that matter). Typically, when cyclists are pulled over for operating a bicycle while intoxicated, it is because they are interrupting the flow of traffic, have caused an accident, injured themselves, or had a close call. Police do not generally set up roadblocks for inebriated cyclists. But if you are a threat to yourself or others on the bike, you can be detained and formally charged with OWI or DUI.

What are the Penalties for Operating a Bicycle While Intoxicated?

Since the law makes no distinction between bicycles and cars, the potential penalties for operating a bicycle while intoxicated are the same as operating a car while intoxicated. In fact, you can face a suspension of your driver’s license if you are arrested for operating a bicycle while intoxicated. 

That being said, you have a much stronger argument before the court than you would if you were driving a car. In fact, you can argue that you did not want to drive a car because you were so intoxicated and thought you could safely make it home on your bike.

Whether or not the judge or prosecution agrees to offer you a reduced sentence because of your foresight depends on whether or not you caused an accident or harmed anyone else. If you did, you may find it especially difficult to get a decent plea.

With the help of a skilled DUI attorney, however, you do have a chance.

Talk to The Bellinger Law Office Today

If you have been charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated, you do have options. The Indiana DUI attorneys at The Bellinger Law Office have helped good people reduce serious charges against them. Talk to us today for more information.

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