Happy Hour and Bikes: What does the law say about this in your state?

Vandon

Member
Let's begin by stating the obvious: Stay off of the throttle when drinking! With that, let's admit that thousands of Dutchmen left bars tonight on bicycles and the police appreciate it. What do the laws in your state say about this? I am curious to know if anyone has had any negative experiences with this. FYI: I live in Texas where the books say that cyclists are subject to all rules that apply operators of any other type of vehicle, license required or not. I haven't found anything published that indicates that this is strictly enforced.
 

DashRiprock

Active Member
One can only hope that the law applies equally to all who choose to use the space considering the obvious danger present and liability implied.
 

Vandon

Member
One can only hope that the law applies equally to all who choose to use the space considering the obvious danger present and liability implied.

That is your personal opinion. Whether or not I share your opinion (I do) doesn't affect a situation where you or I leave a tavern on a bicycle, electric or not, and get pulled over for "swerving." After all, in many states you don't have to be legally intoxicated to be charged with DUI. People are in fact convicted of DUI based on officers testimonies when their BAC is in fact under the legal limit. Things work different in different states. Example: I have read that while in California has a separate set of laws concerning the operation of bicycles, Oregon does not. In fact, there was a case just a few years back concerning a man who was using an e-bike to get to work after being convicted of a DUI. Apparently, officers recognized him and arrested him on his e-bike and charged him for operating a vehicle with a suspended license; even though federal law permits us to operate an e-bikes without licenses. Do you agree with this? Perhaps it is worth noting that it was also in Oregon where a man was once convicted of DUI for riding a tricycle while intoxicated. I think public drunkenness would have been the appropriate charge but that is only my own personal opinion. I am curious to know if anyone has any experience with similar situations. (I thought it would be more interesting to ask the question here than to google search all 50 states.)
 

DashRiprock

Active Member
As you mentioned, the law is applied selectively. We have a local cyclist who (when he isn't driving down the wrong side of the road in his car, running over mailboxes and almost hitting roadside workers while doing so)...is driving all over the road on his bike, loaded down with garbage while darting out into the road 24/7/365 on ice-covered surfaces in sub-freezing temperatures.
I stopped trying to understand the law surrounding those who would put our lives in danger some time ago...as any protection from the above occurs primarily in better neighborhoods than mine.
 

pcrdude

Member
Well, I would go under the assumption that if a cop decides to "pull you over" on a bicycle, there would need to be just cause in any state. After that initial contact, my guess is it would be up to the discretion of the officer involved. Missouri DWI laws specify "motor vehicle" if memory serves, so a regular bicycle may not be enough to qualify for a DWI. OTOH, the officer could certainly cite you, arrest you, and make you plead your case in court.

I can see both sides of the biking while drunk argument. On one hand, it is significantly less potentially hazardous than operating a motor vehicle (speed, mass, etc.). On the other hand, if operating on (or near -> shoulders) public roads, errant directional changes could result in altering the path of road vehicles, resulting in crashes equally significant as regular motor vehicle crashes.

I (for one) never operate a licensed motor vehicle after ANY alcohol, but would ride a bike (or eBike) after one or a few drinks, but certainly not while "drunk".

YMMV

;)
 

pcrdude

Member
In order to answer your question more fully, I found this:

Covered Vehicles or Devices:

The term motor vehicle is not defined in the Missouri DWI statutes. However, it seems clear under Missouri case law that any motorized vehicle will suffice for these purposes. There are also separate statutes for Boating While Intoxicated cases, where a motor is not even required. Golf carts, ATVs and mini-bikes have all been deemed valid motor vehicles for Missouri DWI purposes. Covert v. Dir. Of Revenue, 151 S.W.3d 70 (Mo. App. E.D. 2004); State v. Laplante, 148 S.W.3d 347 (Mo. App. S.D. 2004); State v. Bailey, 140 S.W.3d 260 (Mo. App. S.D. 2004).

Covered Locations:

You do not have to be driving a motor vehicle on a highway to receive a DWI in Missouri. Missouri case law provides a person may be guilty of DWI anywhere in the state, despite language in the implied consent warning using language of upon public highways of the state. You can be arrested for DWI for driving or operating a motor vehicle on an interstate highway, state highway, county or local road, private roads or drives, private property, parking lots, etc. Bertram v. Dir. of Revenue, 930 S.W.2d 7 (Mo. App. W.D. 1996); Peeler v. Dir. of Revenue, 934 S.W.2d 329 (Mo. App. E.D. 1996).

The site has all the information you asked for, and I (for one), would love to discuss the issue!
 

Vandon

Member
I can see both sides of the biking while drunk argument. On one hand, it is significantly less potentially hazardous than operating a motor vehicle (speed, mass, etc.). On the other hand, if operating on (or near -> shoulders) public roads, errant directional changes could result in altering the path of road vehicles, resulting in crashes equally significant as regular motor vehicle crashes.

I (for one) never operate a licensed motor vehicle after ANY alcohol, but would ride a bike (or eBike) after one or a few drinks, but certainly not while "drunk".

Great reply! I appreciate that you won't ride a bike drunk. However, this is a great idea that isn't always practiced. In fact, they say that you should assume that everyone in Amsterdam on a bike after dark is drunk. It's a different culture but at the same time, it is probably the city in the world that takes biking most seriously. Perhaps someone from Beijing would disagree but what I can say for sure is that bicycle DUI is not an international concept.

My issue with this is the following: The effects of a DUI conviction are devastating. The loss of a license for a long period of time is already a huge factor. When you add together the possible loss of current employment, what it does to all of your future job applications, and the potential of paying upwards of ten grand more in car insurance in future, you can say for sure that your life has officially changed. At my size, four beers will give me a light buzz but I wouldn't hesitate to bike home. However, a missed hand signal in some places could have me blowing into a breathalyzer and maybe failing the test. My belief is that there must be another set of standards concerning for bicycles. What happens on your bicycle should not affect your motor vehicle record. I would rather do an overnighter in jail and explain to every future employer that I was once arrested and jailed for drinking four beers and biking! "Pedal-Pubs" are starting to pop up here in Texas, along with the rest of the country. Could you imagine if they arrested everyone on a Pedal-Pub? That would suck and I would say, "Only in America..."
 

Vandon

Member
Thanks @pcrdude, I've got to know what they consider mini-bike in Missouri! (I most recently lived in St. Louis. We did plenty of buzzed biking.)
 

pcrdude

Member
That site (and my quote of it) shows the relevant precedent cases. What really got me was that you could get a DWI for operating on your own private property!!!! If that is true, then I can't see any leniency for operating a bicycle on public roads while over the legal limit.
 

Vandon

Member
No one owns property, they only rent it from the gov't. Anyone know what Lee Greenwood song is in my head right now?
 

pcrdude

Member
No one owns property....

But they tax you as if you do!

;)

Until 2009, Illinois classified low speed motorized bicycles as motor vehicles which required registration, but you couldn't register a low speed motorized bicycle!

They adopted the national guidelines after 2009.

:/
 

Vandon

Member
I hate stupid. It is kind of like when I was a teenager and it was cool to have a throwing star. They were legal to buy but not legal to own. Authoritative discretion gives me an uneasy feeling. Truth be told, I am not terribly worried around here because there are "pub bike crawls" that occur during certain festivals. I would be very concerned with certain bikes though though that are very different looking than traditional bikes.
 

Court

Administrator
Staff member
I am not terribly worried around here because there are "pub bike crawls" that occur during certain festivals. I would be very concerned with certain bikes though though that are very different looking than traditional bikes.
Yeah, I could see electric bikes being perceived as "motorized vehicles" and understand why we have these laws in place and even the case where one guy gets a DWI in a car and is then targeted again on a bike if he is riding irresponsibly. It would be nicer to have programs that helped these people deal with their alcoholism and provided alternative ways of getting home. Many people who lose their licenses do turn to bikes and ebikes as a way to still get to work etc. you're right about how it changes your record, costs money and impacts your job prospects.

Maybe sometime soon we'll have affordable self-driving taxi cabs that can help. I have seen the group pedal bikes that tour breweries etc. in Austin Texas and elsewhere. In these cases, even though riders may be drunk the driver is not. For me personally, if alcohol is involved I'll just walk my bike home or leave it at a rack and get a ride with a friend. If you can afford the price of getting smashed then pay for a cab. If you live in a town without cabs... then I can understand why you're getting smashed all the time ;)
 

calvin

Active Member
I talked to a guy who was arrested when he admitted to a Phoenix cop that he was drunk while driving his 1000 watt ebike. In the conversation he stated that he had just recovered from a face plant whereby he had broken several bones in his face. I noticed he had no helmet. He said didn't like to wear one....