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Can You Get a DUI Riding a Bicycle?

bike leaned up against a building at night

Driving a vehicle while under the influence is illegal and everyone knows that. Because of that, some people might instead decide to ride a bike to and from the bar, or whenever they’re drunk, in the hopes that this is more legal than getting behind the wheel. But getting behind the handlebars and pedaling while drunk isn’t better.

Whether it’s called a DUI for driving under the influence or a DWI for driving while intoxicated, both are the same—a person is operating a moving vehicle or object on the road while they’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Let’s take a look at the duties of a person riding a bicycle and if they can get a DUI.

New Mexico Bicycle Laws and DUI

Even though bicycles are not considered vehicles under New Mexico law, bicyclists still must follow all traffic laws when they are on the road and are subject to the same rights and duties as motorists. This means that one of those duties is to drive sober. So in short, yes, you can get a DUI riding a bike.

State laws outline what constitutes driving while intoxicated, and while these laws only mention driving a vehicle, as bike laws maintain, bicyclists must follow the same traffic laws as motorists. This means that bicyclists over 21 must not have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher. If a driver is under 21, they cannot have a BAC of .02 or higher.

Even if their BAC is taken by a blood or breathalyzer test and is lower than the legal limit, they can still be charged with a DUI if they are visibly intoxicated and it has affected their ability to operate the vehicle.

Drugs can also affect a person’s ability to drive and cause them to be charged with a DWI. Whether they are legal drugs you are prescribed, illegal drugs you’ve consumed, or drugs whose side effects are amplified by alcohol, drugs can negatively affect your motor skills and cause you to be dangerous behind a wheel or on a bike. This makes you eligible for a DUI as well.

All of the above can lead to a DUI on a bicycle. Albuquerque bicycle laws mention that bike operators have the same rights as vehicles when in the street and roadways, and they also assume the same duties as drivers of automobiles. This means they could be subject to a DUI if they are caught riding their bike while drunk, under the influence of drugs, or both.

The Dangers of Riding a Bike While Intoxicated

Riding a bicycle while drunk or under the influence can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. Even though you’re not behind the wheel of a heavy vehicle that travels at high speeds, you can still suffer from serious injuries and hurt others when you ride a bike while drunk.

Many people choose to bike while intoxicated because they think it’s a safe way to get home instead of driving, or that it’s better than their other options, but that’s not true. You’re still putting yourself and others in serious danger when you decide to drunkenly ride your bike.

Here are some of the ways you could get hurt or hurt others when you bicycle while intoxicated:

  • Striking an object on your bike
  • Colliding with a vehicle
  • Hitting a pedestrian
  • Riding over a pedestrian
  • Riding into traffic the wrong way
  • Riding too close to vehicles on the road
  • Biking erratically and causing an accident
  • Falling off your bike in general
  • Falling off your bike into traffic

Any one of these accidents while riding your bike could be deadly for you or another person involved. Even if the other party is in a vehicle, they can still get seriously hurt when a drunk bike rider causes a wreck with them. They may have more protection than a bicycle might, but they still can crash and get hurt.

Driving anything under the influence is dangerous, and that includes bikes. Let’s take a look at the potential consequences of biking while under the influence.

Consequences of a Bicycle DWI

You might think that since you were riding a bike, your consequences will be different than someone driving a vehicle while drunk, but that’s not necessarily true. Even though New Mexico code doesn’t specifically list bicycles as vehicles, they still must follow the same rules of the road. This means that the consequences you face for biking drunk will likely be similar to if you were behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.

While your driver’s license might not get taken away, that doesn’t mean you won’t face any immediate consequences. The officer will probably request a breathalyzer test to get your BAC, and if you test above the legal limit, you could face criminal charges, one of them potentially being public intoxication. You also might face reckless driving charges.

In addition to a test, the officer will also take into account your state when they stop you. If you are a danger to yourself and others, or were visibly drunk, they could arrest you.

The best way to avoid all of these potential consequences is to always bike sober. Drunk cyclists are dangerous on the road, and even more dangerous to themselves.

Buckingham & Vega Law Firm Will Represent You

Getting into an accident with a bicyclist can be confusing, but you could have suffered very serious injuries as a result. When the cyclist is drunk, that adds to the severity of the wreck and their carelessness. Our Albuquerque bicycle accident lawyer knows this is a complicated situation and that you want justice for the cyclist’s negligent actions.

Our attorneys at Buckingham & Vega Law Firm are prepared to take legal action against a negligent bicyclist and hold them accountable for how they’ve harmed you. Reach out to our office today so we can discuss your potential claim and get started.

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