Technically, a bicyclist cannot be charged with driving under the influence (DUI) in California because a bicycle is not a “vehicle” under California DUI laws. However, the California Vehicle Code contains a separate provision ( Section 21200.5) making it unlawful to ride a bicycle on any public street while under the influence of alcohol (or drugs).
Five riders learned this answer the hard way when they were arrested for bicycle DUI in California earlier this month. According to the Associated Press, at approximately 1:30 a.m., Baldwin Hills police officers responded to a report of a group of erratic cyclists and a subsequent accident.
Upon arrival, the officers discovered 14 bicyclists gathered around the injured rider. According to the officers, the bicyclists were not wearing helmets or reflective clothing, and there was a strong odor of alcohol coming from the area of the riders.
As in any California drunk driving case, the bicyclists were asked to perform field sobriety tests. Five bicyclists, including the injured rider, were subsequently arrested and cited for bicycle DUI.
Although typical California DUI penalties do not apply, a bicyclist may be incarcerated until he or she is sober and fined up to $250 dollars. In addition, while the bicyclist may face a criminal conviction, it will not affect his or her driving record or automobile insurance.
Since the laws for driving under the influence in California can differ, it is advisable to contact an experienced California DUI attorney if you are arrested or cited for driving any vehicle (car, bicycle, boat, etc.) under the influence of alcohol.