Can You Get a DUI on a Bike?

Many people naturally assume that DUIs are only applicable to motor vehicles. But, can you get a DUI on a bike? The answer is yes. If you’re stopped by an officer of the law, in any US state, while being under alcohol’s influence, you could get in some real trouble.

It’s common for people under the influence to land in police custody – this is because the police have been given authority to detain highly intoxicated persons posing a threat to public safety.

What this tells you is that just like you’re advised not to drive when drunk, you shouldn’t ride a bike when intoxicated with alcohol or some other potent substance.

This is because you may bring harm to yourself or to others when you’re in an intoxicated state. Many terrible accidents have resulted from riding bikes under the influence of alcohol.

This short article has been written to enlighten you on bicycle-related DUI.

What Does DUI Mean?

Let’s first define what a DUI is.

Every state in the US has certain penalties for anyone caught biking under the influence so you recommend you get a water bottle cage and bike water bottles to drink water from during your rides. However, these laws aren’t exactly the same in each state. Generally, you can be detained for a DUI if you have 0.08%, and above, of alcohol in your blood.

This reading can be taken with a breathalyzer. The breathalyzer is placed in the suspect’s mouth and blown into. You will be said to have had too much to drink if the reading shoots above the normal limit.

Usually, when a person is under the influence of a drug or alcohol, the person isn’t functioning within their right senses. Hence, such a person is mostly reported by other sober individuals in the vicinity. Once reported, the police arrive on the scene and perform some tests to determine if the suspect should be detained or not.

If you’re detained for your first DUI ever, you won’t be charged with a felony crime. Many US states treat that first-time offense as a misdemeanor.

Considering that DUIs are presumably related to the driving of a vehicle, some individuals don’t believe that you can get a DUI on a bicycle since bikes aren’t clearly defined as vehicles. This may cause a feeling of unfair judgment when detained for a bicycle-related DUI. Regardless of all that, the law remains intact and it must be obeyed.

Legal Requirements

Legally, a DUI offense is confirmed through readings of the blood alcohol level. Across all US states, anyone caught with 0.08% blood alcohol level or more is considered to be intoxicated. A breathalyzer is a standard device for reading blood alcohol concentration.

Once blown into and the readings point toward intoxication, the suspect is subjected to due processes of the law. You should know that even if the suspect appears to be in their right senses, they would still be detained if the tests reflect intoxication.

Although there are some DUI indicators common to laws in all states, there are still certain differences in the laws of each state. These differences stem from the legal wording in the definition of DUI crimes within the state’s written laws.

With that in mind, a person charged with DUI offense may be prosecuted differently in states across the US. The laws in certain states consider the word “vehicle” as any machine that can move people from one destination to another. To avoid ambiguity, there are those who clearly state bicycles in their DUI laws.

Unlike states that use the term “motor vehicle” in their DUI laws, those that plainly state “vehicle” may easily class bicycles as DUI-worthy machines. In these states, you can expect someone riding a bicycle to be subjected to similar laws as someone driving a car.

In states like California, you can get a DUI on a bike because California’s laws are among the laws that frown at biking when under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This means that if you decide to get on your bike when significantly intoxicated, and the police’s attention is drawn to you, you’ll be detained and charged with a DUI offense.

However, you might be able to effectively defend yourself against the law in a state that uses specific wordings like “motor vehicle” in their DUI laws. In such a state, it’s easier to argue your case and come out victorious when facing a bicycle-related DUI charge.

All these are factors that determine whether or not you can get a DUI on a BMX bike. Regardless of all that, you should know that intoxication isn’t only frowned at when driving or operating some vehicle. If you’re suspected of being intoxicated in public, you can be considered as being a threat to your safety and the safety of others.

In addition to all that, being under the influence or having a beer bottle holder while manning a motorized vehicle that isn’t a bicycle or motor vehicle can also get you detained – depending on the law of the state. If you aren’t aware of your state’s DUI laws, it’s best to update yourself ASAP. You can get these state laws from websites online.

Summarily, although specifications regarding DUIs may vary from state to state, there are still repercussions for deciding to drive a car or ride a bike while under the influence of alcohol or drug substance.


Putting laws aside, it’s obvious that operating any vehicle while being intoxicated is dangerous. Many people have hurt themselves and others because they were in an intoxicated state.

It’s true that you can get a DUI on a bike, but variations in state laws may help you go scot-free in some states. In other states that clearly mention bicycles in their definition of DUI offenses, you may not be able to escape punishment.

The best thing is to know the laws of your state – this way you won’t be taken by surprise when facing a DUI charge. However, it’s best to avoid being publicly intoxicated in any state.

Shailen Vandeyar

A proud Indian origin Kiwi who loves to plant trees and play with my pet bunny when not out cycling through the best routes, reviewing the latest gear, and sharing tips on everything biking.

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