It might sound like a silly question — “Can you get a DWI on a bicycle?” — but trust us, it’s worth considering. Although getting on a bicycle (instead of into the driver’s seat of a car) might seem like a responsible choice after a heavy night of drinking for many folks, it’s still natural to worry if there are potential blowbacks if you’re caught “driving” under the influence.
With the advent of more bike lanes being added to cities and events held by groups like Critical Mass gaining in popularity, more and more prosecutors are pushing for policies that make getting caught while biking drunk to be punishable like a DUI in Texas. At the end of the day, the legal decision could be a matter of interpreting legal language.
Is riding a bicycle considered operating a motor vehicle?
The key to understanding the answer to, “Can you get a DWI on a bicycle” is understanding what is meant by the phrase “operating a motor vehicle.”
In many states, riding a bicycle while intoxicated can definitely get you picked up for a DUI/DWI, but in Texas, things aren’t so clear.
In the Lone Star State, the definition of a motor vehicle is as follows: A motor vehicle is “…a device in, on, or by which a person or property is or may be transported or drawn on a highway …”
As you can see, this definition is very broad. So broad, in fact, that it could be expanded and interpreted to include bicycles and motorized bicycles.
So … can you get a DUI on a bicycle?
Other states have cleared up the legal language around drinking and biking. But, as of now, the wording of the law in Texas is ambiguous enough to make it difficult to determine whether or not you can get in legal trouble for drinking and biking.
Keeping that in mind, prosecutors in Texas can (and will) definitely still try to get you charged with DWI if you’ve been caught drunk on your bike.
Jumping on a bike with your blood alcohol levels through the roof may can still you in legal can also get you in trouble of a different kind. If you’re biking drunk and wreaking havoc (hurting others, damaging property), you’re basically asking for an officer to pick you up. Sure, the DUI/DWI charges might be weak, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be charged with something else, like negligence or public intoxication, in the process.
Still considering biking drunk? Make sure you know the answer to the question, “How long does a DWI stay on your record?” (Hint: it’s longer than you’ll want it to.)
What if a bike is your only means of transportation?
As we’ve just discussed, it is possible although unlikely in Texas, to get a DWI from riding drunk on your bicycle. However, it’s still wise to avoid biking drunk if you can. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Order an Uber, Lyft, or taxi. A few dollars now is better than a DUI/DWI later. (Here’s a refresher on the DUI vs. DWI in Texas, should you need it).
- Call a friend. Broke? A good friend will be happy to come pick you up instead of allowing you to bike home drunk.
- Stay where you are. If it’s possible, stay put and take another hour or two to sober up before you head home.
What happens if you get charged with a DWI while on a bike?
If you do get picked up by an officer while riding a bicycle drunk, then you need to act fast. As we mentioned earlier, winding up with a DUI as a result is unlikely — but that doesn’t mean you can’t be charged with something else or slapped with some sort of other major fine.
With Thiessen Law Firm’s Super Lawyer and Houston DWI attorney, Mark Thiessen, at your side, you could fight back against a Houston DUI/DWI charge and win. Take control of your situation and call (713) 864-9000 today to schedule your free consultation.
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