Whether you are going out with a group of old friends, celebrating an engagement, watching your local sports team, or just drinking by yourself, it is always important that you think ahead. If you will be consuming an amount of alcohol that would make it unsafe for you to drive, the responsible thing to do would be to proactively make plans in order to safely get home. To many, this means figuring out a way to travel that does not involve getting in the driver’s seat of a motor vehicle. However, this is not the only place where you can be dangerous to drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.
Although the common term for drunk driving is driving under the influence, the larger problem is considered operating under the influence. With how popular biking is becoming, especially in places like California, biking under the influence can become a bigger problem. This can also be referred to as cycling under the influence or bicycling under the influence. Because of the common misconception that you are being safe as long as you are not driving while intoxicated, many people find themselves confused or frustrated when they get into trouble for riding their bike when they are above the legal alcohol consumption limit.
In California, among many other states, cyclists have to abide by the same rules of the road as motorists do. For example, cyclists cannot ride against traffic. Technically, bike riders and motor vehicle drivers alike share the same rights to a safe roadway. So when it comes to alcohol consumption and operation, there are slight differences in the laws, but the general idea of safe operation stays the same.
Unlike when someone is pulled over when driving a motor vehicle, bicyclists do not have to take the same types of sobriety tests. The arresting officer will use his best discretion when determining if they believe the cyclist was unsafely operating due to drugs or alcohol. However, the cyclist has the opportunity and right to request a chemical test made of the person’s blood, breath, or urine for the purpose of determining that person’s blood or drug content level. If this test is requested, the law states that it must be performed.
This can cause a lot of confusion among cyclists. When the original arrest occurs, it can seem unwarranted, especially if the cyclist does not believe that they are above the legal limit, therefore not believing that they have done anything wrong. This is why the request to take a chemical test is an option.
Penalties of Cycling Under the Influence
While being convicted of operating a motor vehicle can result in high fines, loss of license, special license plates, or even jail time, the penalty for conviction of cycling under the influence is much less severe. A conviction of a violation of this section of California law will be punished by a fine of not more that $250. This is a very light punishment when compared to the punishment as a result of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
However, if the cyclist is between the ages of 13 and 21 and is convicted of bicycling under the influence, the punishment may be reflected in their ability to withhold or obtain a driver’s license. Although this was not an offense that directly reflected the person’s ability to drive, it is still against the law to consume alcohol, so it can be reflected in the person’s privilege to a driver’s license.
Impact of Biking Under the Influence
In a study done by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, twenty-four percent of all cyclist fatalities involve a cyclist who is under the influence. However, in a general sense, all of these fatalities have been to the bicyclist themselves, not the drivers or passengers of the motor vehicles. However, this does not mean that no one else is harmed.
A cyclist who appears to be drunk cannot only cause accidents directly, but indirectly as well. This type of operation can be distracting to other motorists on the road, causing accidents. Also, a drunk bicyclist can be the cause of an accident, without actually being in the accident themselves. Most drivers find themselves more nervous to drive near cyclists than other cars, meaning that their actions and precautions change when there is a cyclist involved in the traffic pattern. If this cyclist is unsafely operating their bicycle, this can easily cause more problems.
If you or a loved on has been injured in an accident, whether in a car, on a bicycle, or as a pedestrian due to the negligence of a cyclist who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you deserve compensation. Call an attorney at the Drake Law Firm for more information today.