Cycling Under the Influence in Georgia
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Drunk driving is against the law, but is cycling under the influence in Georgia illegal? Philip Kim Law, P.C. answers this and more. Contact us for information.
Author: Philip Kim, Founder, Philip Kim Law, P.C.
Defense lawyer Philip Kim has committed his career to standing up for the accused, and protecting the rights and reputations of his valued clients. If you face criminal charges in Georgia, we can provide you with the skilled, effective defense representation you need.
Published on March 20, 2023.
Bike Laws and DUI in Georgia
Under Georgia law, operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol can result in a DUI charge. Title 40 of the Georgia Code, which governs motor vehicles in Georgia, defines bicycles as self-propelled vehicles. Therefore, the provisions of Georgia traffic laws that apply to motor vehicles also apply to bicycles operated upon a path or highway with certain specified exceptions.
Cyclists have the same duties and responsibilities on the road as other people physically controlling a moving motor vehicle. They must remain law-abiding when riding in Georgia, including cycling on the right side of the road, stopping for red lights, using turn signals, and not impeding the free flow of traffic.
Individuals caught cycling while intoxicated may face DUI charges that affect their criminal record and future career.
What States Can You Get a DUI on a Bicycle?
Generally, most states have criminal consequences for public intoxication and endangerment offenses when operating self-propelled vehicles. Although definitions for actions that qualify as DUI or related offenses rely strongly on the wording of the state law. Some states define vehicles as all devices capable of transporting people, explicitly include bicycles in their statute, or specifically associate DUI offenses with motorized vehicles.
States with a restricted definition for the term vehicle (specifically apply only to motor vehicles) are less likely to charge individuals riding a bicycle while intoxicated for a DUI offense. However, there are potential consequences for individuals operating motorized bikes while under the influence of alcohol or a non-prescribed controlled substance.
States with statutes that precisely define the term vehicle as applying to the operation of a motor vehicle include New York, Montana, Nevada, Wisconsin, Iowa, Arizona, Idaho, Virginia, Maine, Massachusetts, and California.
Other states that allow for the DUI arrests of individuals operating bicycles include Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Oregon, Florida, Utah, Maryland, Alaska, Indiana, Alabama, and Vermont.
Who Is Guilty of a Bike DUI Offense?
You will be guilty of biking under the influence if you are driving or in physical control of the bicycle. Generally, an individual will be guilty of a DUI offense if they are arrested by a police officer while driving on a highway or public premises:
- With a blood alcohol concentration (B.A.C.) of .08% or higher
- Under the influence of (intoxicated by) alcohol or a controlled substance
If the field sobriety tests or breathalyzer test used to measure your BAC is above the required level, you will be deemed legally intoxicated even if you have no physical signs of intoxication.
Further, cycling under the influence of drugs, aerosols, glue, toxic vapors, or any other combined influence which affects your driving capacity is illegal.
Criminal lawyers in Lawrenceville may be able to challenge the accuracy of the blood test and breath results to make them inadmissible as evidence in court.
What Are the Consequences of a Bike DUI?
Individuals arrested by a police officer for a bicycle DUI will not face the same penalties as drivers arrested for a regular motor vehicle DUI in Georgia.
Fines, jail time, probation, and other penalties can result from cycling under the influence. The majority of DUI charges involving bicyclists are misdemeanors punishable by up to 12 months in jail with fines of up to $1,000.
You may face a more serious charge if there are aggravating circumstances or you have previously been charged with DUI.
Bike DUIs do not result in the loss of your driving privileges (license revocation) as they do for ordinary car drivers. However, misdemeanor offenses still result in a criminal record, which may have an impact on your employment prospects.
Aggravating Circumstances for Bike DUI
Prosecutors tend to be more lenient in bicycle DUI cases which are of little risk to other road users. Nevertheless, the consequences for a bike DUI will be much higher if you are a cyclist:
With an increased number of prior DUI convictions,
Involved in an automobile accident
Cycling under the influence with a child under 14
With a high level of alcohol in your system
DUI convictions in Georgia stay on your record and count as prior convictions forever, and a bike DUI will count as a prior DUI if you are convicted for a subsequent DUI offense. You will also be unable to file a petition through the 2nd Chance Act in Georgia to have your misdemeanor or felony convictions expunged from your criminal record.
As a result, DUI offenders unable to obtain future employment opportunities may find it difficult to integrate back into society, leading to an increase in the GA Crime Rate.
Cycling incidents that lead to severe injuries or deaths may elevate your offense to a felony DUI. Felony DUIs in Georgia within five years are grave offenses punishable by five years in jail and up to $5000 in fines.
In addition to probation, a DUI offender may be required to undergo substance abuse treatment and be required to install an ignition interlock device (if riding a motorbike), or their bicycle may be impounded.
Can You Get a Ticket for Cycling Under the Influence?
A police officer who suspects you are driving while intoxicated may stop you and issue you a DUI ticket. The law requires that police officers have a good reason for stopping your vehicle, and they will usually testify that you were driving erratically. They may also claim that they observed behavior that proves you were cycling under the influence, such as:
Failure to obey the traffic laws
Falling off your bicycle
Weaving when cycling
Being unable to maintain balance when stopped at a red light
However, the prosecution’s testimony can always be countered because an individual could be driving in an erratic manner even though they are not under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Are There Any Defenses for Biking DUI Charges?
Criminal lawyers in Lawrenceville are well versed in Georgia DUI laws and can help you fight your biking DUI charge by:
- Proving that the initial reason for the stop was illegitimate
- Questioning the accuracy of the blood test and breathalyzer results
- Providing evidence of the police officer’s misconduct
- Questioning the appropriateness of the methods used during the blood test
- Providing evidence that you were not driving erratically but have a medical condition
- Demonstrating your appearance was not the result of alcohol or drugs
- Proving that the level of alcohol you consumed was so insignificant to affect your ability to cycle
Why Should You Contact Us?
If you are facing criminal charges for cycling under the influence, you do not have to plead guilty to those charges. However, you can seek help from Philip Kim Law, who have extensive experience with Georgia DUI law and can assist you in obtaining the best outcome for your case.