Road Rights- Know When to Say When
By Bob Mionske
If you plan to pedal home after a night out this weekend, you might want to consider the possible ways the police will react if they catch you BUI—bicycling under the influence.
You Lose Your License In states such as Oregon, where traffic laws are equally applicable to cyclists and motorists, BUI can land you in the same trouble as any driver whose blood-alcohol level exceeds the limit (0.08 percent).
You’re in the Clear—If You Behave A few years ago, South Dakota changed its state law to make bicycling under the influence legal. Legislators wanted to encourage people who’d had too much to drink to ride their bikes instead of driving. However, you can be arrested for disorderly conduct if you make a drunken spectacle of yourself.
Something in Between In California, BUI is a separate offense from DUI and doesn’t carry the same consequences. Cyclists can request a blood-alcohol test if they want to try to prove they’re sober, but police can’t require cyclists to be tested. In Washington, drunk cyclists can be stopped—and transported to a safe place—but not arrested for DUI.
No matter where you live, keep in mind that according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly 25 percent of cycling deaths involve a rider who was intoxicated. To reduce your risk—legal and otherwise—consider bar-hopping on foot or by public transportation.
Research and assistance by Rick Bernardi, J.D.
This article, Know When to Say When, was originally published on Bicycling on May 14, 2012.
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