The majority of drivers in California know that they can face criminal charges if drive a motor vehicle after drinking alcohol or engaging in drug use. Drivers may be less aware that they can also face criminal charges while riding a bicycle.
California Vehicle Code Section 21200.5: Riding A Bicycle Under The Influence violations can lead to steep penalties. Find out more about the uses of this charge and possible legal defenses with the Simmrin Law Group.
Riding a Bicycle Under the Influence: Legal Definition
Individuals may face charges under VC 21200.5 if they ride a bicycle while under the influence of:
Individuals must operate their vehicle on a highway in order to be charged with riding a bicycle under the influence. Note that California uses the term ‘highway’ to refer to all public streets and roads. Bicyclists are generally not allowed on freeways at any point.
Bicyclists are allowed to bike under the influence of drugs or alcohol in their driveway or on private roads.
Riding a Bicycle Under the Influence: Examples
Man A bikes over to a friend’s house to spend the afternoon. They have a few drinks and the man has to head home. He rides his bike erratically and is stopped by a police officer. He could be convicted for biking under the influence.
Man B invites his friends over to his house for pizzas and drinks. At some point in the day, he decides to get out his bicycle. He rides around in his yard and his driveway while drinking. A police officer comes by, but he should not face criminal charges since he was not riding his bike on a public road.
Riding a Bicycle Under the Influence: Penalties
The court system in California treats riding a bicycle under the influence as a misdemeanor offense. This means the charge will show up on your criminal record. A VC 21200.5 conviction can lead to fines of up to $250.
These charges are generally far less severe than the penalties for other alcohol-related offenses, including:
- California Vehicle Code Section 23152(a): Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs
- California Vehicle Code Section 23152(b): Driving with a Blood Alcohol Content of 0.08 or Higher
- California Vehicle Code Section 23153: DUI Causing Injury
However, if the bicyclist is between the ages of 13 – 21 they may be subjected to a yearlong driving privilege suspension. Bicyclists from 13 – 21 who do not yet have a driver’s license may be forced to wait a year before they can get one after a VC 21200.5 conviction.
Bicyclists can learn more about their legal options if they are accused of biking under the influence by contacting a Los Angeles DUI lawyer.
Riding a Bicycle Under the Influence: Legal Defenses
There are number of legal defenses that can be used if an individual is facing charges for riding a bicycle under the influence. A criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles may be able to build a defense by arguing:
You Were Riding Your Bike on a Private Road
VC 21200.5 charges should only apply if a bicyclist is riding on a public road or street. Bicyclists who are on private property should not face a criminal conviction for their actions, even if they are biking under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
You Were Not Biking While Intoxicated
Some bicyclists are wrongfully accused of biking under the influence. If a police officer believes you are riding a bike under the influence because you are working on a new jump or a trick, a criminal defense lawyer may be able to help you.
A criminal defense lawyer may even be able to help argue the results of tests used to measure your blood alcohol content (BAC). Breathalyzers and other tests can give inaccurate results in some situations.
You Were Stopped without Cause
Additionally, a VC 21200.5 case may be dismissed entirely if you were arrested without just cause. If a police officer had no reason to question you while you were riding your bike, you may be able to avoid a riding a bicycle under the influence conviction.
Let a Criminal Defense Lawyer Help You Face VC 21200.5 Charges
Many people are not prepared to face California Vehicle Code Section 21200.5: Riding A Bicycle Under The Influence charges on their own. You can get professional help when you need it by contacting the Simmrin Law Group for a FREE initial case evaluation.
Let our team of professional criminal defense lawyers start working on your defense by completing our online contact form or calling (310) 997-4688.