Rather than drive back and forth from an event that involves alcohol consumption, many people elect to ride their bicycles, especially if they live close to the event. However, can a person be charged with a DUI for riding a bike drunk?

Unfortunately, cycling under the influence is a crime in California. In order to be convicted of this crime, you must’ve ridden a bike on a public highway (i.e. any public road or street—not a freeway) and appear to be under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both.

However, the criminal penalties associated with this offense are less severe compared to DUI involving a vehicle, boat, or even an electric scooter. Cycling under the influence is a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $250 (not including court costs and other legal fees).

The following is a breakdown of the differences between cycling under the influence and DUI:

  • No legal limit – While a person can get a DUI in California for operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of at least .08 percent—or .04 percent for commercial drivers and .02 percent for underage drivers—determining intoxication in bicycle cases is proven through indirect evidence such as the odor of alcohol coming from the cyclist, a flushed face, or erratic cycling.
  • No jail time – A conviction for a first DUI offense in California carries a maximum six-month jail sentence. On the other hand, cycling under the influence is not punishable by any jail time.
  • No driver’s license suspension – A first-time DUI conviction will also result in the suspension of your driver’s license for up to six months, while cycling will not. However, if you are under 21 years of age and caught cycling under the influence, your driver’s license will be suspended for up to one year or—if you haven’t obtained your license yet—delayed a year.
  • Participation in a breath or blood test – Although you may be required to take a post-arrest chemical test after drunk driving, taking such a test after cycling under the influence is quite rare. In fact, it’s so uncommon that the law states that you have the right to request a chemical test to prove you weren’t intoxicated.

There are several ways you can challenge an arrest. For instance, you can use the facts of the case to show that you sober when you arrested. You could also show that you were riding on a private road or another person’s driveway, rather than a public road.

If you have been charged with cycling under the influence or DUI in Bakersfield, contact Koenig Law Office today at (661) 793-7222 to request a free consultation to learn about your legal options.