Cyclist DUIs

On Thursday January 13, 2011 five bicyclists were arrested in Baldwin Hills for allegedly operating a bicycle while under the influence of an alcoholic beverage.

This might sound a little extreme and confusing to most bicyclists, but getting a bike DUI has very serious consequences. It’s important to understand the laws and regulations that officers have to follow and the body chemistry one displays when you are beyond the legal limit.

Officers and paramedics had responded to a call, that a man riding a bike was hit by a vehicle going southbound on La Cienega Boulevard at Stocker Street at 1:30 a.m.

As officers were investigating the accident, according to CHP, a group of about 15 bicyclist using the north and southbound lanes of La Cienega Boulevard approached the accident in concern of the victim’s well being.  That’s when CHP officers recognized the odor of alcohol coming from the riders and detained them.

According to CHP, none of the bicyclists were wearing helmets and because of the dim lights the riders were hard to see for passing motorists. One of the CHP officers explained the danger of the situation. The speed limit is 55 miles per hour on a dim road, now include a bicyclist that can barley be seen riding and crashing possibly knocking him or her self out. Now you have the possibility of that individual getting run over and seriously getting hurt.

Once the bicyclists were detained the officers started to conduct field sobriety tests. According to CHP they have to follow the same procedures for any alleged DUI investigation. The officers are required proof, beyond a reasonable doubt, of certain elements. These checklist is:

  • was the suspect driving
  • what kind of “vehicle”
  • was the subject under the influence
  • was the subject’s blood alcohol level.08% or higher (in California)

According to the law, the “vehicle” category always includes motor vehicles like cars, trucks, and motorcycles.  In some states it also includes:

  • bicycles
  • riding horses
  • snowmobiles
  • motorized wheelchairs

The California Vehicle Code has made a small exception.  It has deemed that all devices that are moved by human power will not be considered “vehicles”. However, the California Vehicle Code does make it illegal for anyone that is under the influence to ride a bike near a highway. For all people violating this code is required to give a blood, breath, or urine sample and will be investigated as a regular DUI case. The citation for bicycling under the influence is $250.00.

How Officers Tell if You’re Drunk

It’s also really easy for an officer to determine if one is under the influence of alcohol. As one becomes intoxicated you become more talkative and less socially inhabitable with a lot more self-confidence, but losing all motor skills to keep yourself from falling over.  Then your eye sight becomes blurry and you start losing sense of smell, touch, hearing, tasting, and your tolerance for pain is raised. Once an individual has had too much alcohol in there system they are unable to make good judgments or think clearly. These causes exaggerated emotional states of anger, withdrawal and eventual memory loss.

Once the officers where done giving all 15 bicyclists field sobriety tests they arrest five of the individuals who ranged between the ages of 18 and 22, who were all cited for operating a bicycle while under the influence of an alcoholic beverage. The officers also arrested the individual who was in the accident.  Lucky for this individual, he did not crash into a car, but crashed into the center divider wall and walked away with moderated injuries.

Click here to read more about alcohol abuse.