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Esquire’s Answer Fella: Drunk Biking

My friend claims you can get arrested for BUI — biking under the influence. Please tell me he’s kidding.

No can do: Not only can you be pinched for drunk biking, but in some states you can be stripped of your driver’s license as a result.

It’s an area of law that lawyers call “unsettled”: In California, Oregon, Florida, Hawaii, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, cycling under the influence falls within the DUI statutes; other states make it a separate violation; and many states have no specific laws that apply.

According to Bob Mionske, an attorney (and former Olympic cyclist) who specializes in bicycle law,

“Some states specifically exclude bicycles from the vehicle code, and others don’t. You’d think that it would be as simple as having a state define the bicycle as a vehicle explicitly. But you get back to the problem: Bicycling is not a licensed activity. So you have a problem with punishment.

“I guess one of the solutions — although I’m loath to suggest it — would be licensing. But that would be a huge administrative mess. It’s probably a legislative matter. States that put specific language in their codebooks prohibiting drunk cycling will enforce it, and most of those that choose not to won’t.”

Oh, and be sure to catch Bob Mionske’s new Court TV dramedy, Ten-Speed Justice.

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