Driving under the influence (DUI
) is a serious crime and comes with severe penalties
. These charges apply to a variety of different vehicles beyond cars. That being said, it is not possible to get a DUI on a bike in Arizona.
There is some confusion about this because other states do have laws against bicycling under the influence. Additionally, there are some situations where riding a bike while intoxicated could result in criminal charges, although these are rare.
Arizona DUI Definitions
To understand while you cannot face DUI charges for biking while drunk in Arizona, it's important to know some key definitions under Arizona law.
What is DUI?
Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) 28-1381 defines this charge as being in "actual physical control" of a vehicle while you:
- Are "impaired to the slightest degree" by alcohol or drugs.
- Have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or higher.
- Have any of the drugs/metabolites listed in ARS 28-3401 in your system. (Note: A valid prescription is a defense for some of the drugs listed in this statute.)
Note that any one of these conditions is enough for a DUI charge. If multiple factors are true, it can result in more than one count of DUI.
Definition of a Vehicle
defines a vehicle as a device that transports a person or property on a public road. The statute excludes any devices that are "moved by human power." This means non-motorized bicycles are not legally vehicles in the state, so ARS 28-1381 does not apply to them.
What About Motorized Bicycles?
When it comes to motorized bikes, the law is a bit more complicated. Since these bicycles are not moved by human power alone, a more broad interpretation of ARS 28-101 could classify them as vehicles. Simply having a motor installed is not enough to make the bicycle a vehicle in all circumstances. As a general rule, the bike would only be a vehicle if the motor was running at the time law enforcement stopped you.
Other Possible Charges
Although you cannot generally get a DUI on a bike, a police officer could charge you with another crime depending on the circumstances. If you were being disruptive, charges for disorderly conduct (ARS 13-2904
) could apply and if you were riding in an extremely reckless way that put others at risk of injury, you could be charged with endangerment (ARS 13-1201
). Simply riding a bicycle while under the influence is not typically going to be enough to result in these charges, but it is possible depending on the situation.
Additionally, cyclists are obligated to follow the same traffic laws as motorists in most cases, per ARS 28-812
. Being intoxicated can make you less careful, and you can get a citation for breaking any of these laws.
Is It Safe to Bike While Drunk?
Although it is highly unlikely to result in a DUI, biking under the influence is still not a good idea. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 37%
of fatal bicycle crashes involved alcohol. You may also be more likely to engage in risky behavior, such as not wearing a helmet.
All in all, it's better to err on the side of caution and get a ride home instead of bicycling while intoxicated.
DUI Lawyers in Tucson, AZ
If you are facing charges for DUI or another crime, contact us today for a free consultation.