Can You Get a DUI on a Bicycle

As you may know, impaired operation of a motor vehicle is regulated under the Ontario Highway Traffic Act and the Criminal Code of Canada. The law is very different for biking, however, and it is not nearly as regulated.

As society progresses, there seems to be a tendency to care for the environment which in turn means more people biking rather than driving motor vehicles. Additionally, more people and more people live outside of the urban core, leading to commuting on a bicycle becoming increasingly popular. Every day, thousands of bicyclists make their way across the various cities in Ontario and Canada. Bicycles are not only used to go to and from work, but are also becoming a more popular means of transportation to get to parties, restaurants, bars, and nightclubs.

People often wonder what are the rules with respect to drinking and biking. In some countries particularly in Europe, drinking and biking can be seen as the same as drinking and driving a motor vehicle. In Canada, bikes are treated differently than motorized vehicles. However, the moment the bike is motorized, it becomes a criminal act to bike drunk.

Can I Drink And Ride My Bike?

Our advice to you is—NO. The short answer is that it’s a bad idea to ride a bicycle drunk. In fact, drunk cycling can be caught under the ambit of the Liquor License Act for public intoxication. Additionally, police officers have the ability to ticket a cyclist if they are biking in a careless or reckless manner or if they are breaking the laws of the road in some manner. Many bicycles today may also have electric or gas motors, and in these cases, an intoxicated cyclist will likely be violating the Highway Traffic Act and Criminal Code of Canada.

DUI laws tend to change as years go on, but at the moment a blood alcohol concentration (also known as "BAC") of .08% or higher is considered illegal while operating a motor vehicle. If you are charged with driving under the influence you could lose your driver's license for a lengthy period of time, be fined, or even go to jail. Yes, if you are charged driving over the legal limit behind the wheel of a motorized vehicle, in some cases you could even face jail. This may depend on whether this is your first offence, as well as the circumstances of the case. Additionally, every city is different, and some cities treat driving under the influence of alcohol harsher than others. Regardless, you will need an experienced criminal defense lawyer to discuss whether you have a DUI defense. Substance abuse issues are rampant in today's society, and upfront work such as counseling may help resolve your case in a favorable manner.

The Bottomline—It's Dangerous

A cyclist that consumes alcohol or drugs and gets back on the bike puts themselves and others around them at serious risk. Cyclists, like motorcyclists, have very little protection in the event of a fall or collision. They don’t have the luxury of airbags or heavy steel and are vulnerable to injury in all aspects. Alcohol and drug affect your sensory and judgment in such a profound way and our advice is, that as with a car, anyone considering drinking and biking is to leave the bike and take public transit or arrange for a safe ride home.

In a lot of ways, it is nearly as dangerous to drink and bike, as it is to drink and drive a motor vehicle, particularly when discussing the risk to yourself. This is because you have no protection on a bike. Obviously, car accidents are extremely dangerous because of such factors as speed, and the amount of risk you expose the public to would be greater in a motor vehicle than on a bike. However, both should be taken very seriously, despite the laws in Ontario treating them quite differently.

If you have alcohol in your system you are vulnerable to getting yourself injured. Alcohol affects your reaction time, depth perception, and the amount of control you have on your bike. Regardless of whether you are on a regular bike, a power-assisted bike such as a moped, or a scooter, we recommend that you have zero alcohol in your body. Riding a bicycle drunk is a bad idea.

On top of having zero alcohol in your system, you should also wear appropriate safety gear. This includes reflective clothing, a proper helmet, along with the appropriate footwear.

Contact Our Law Firm For Legal Advice

If you are thinking of riding your bike home intoxicated, it is much better to arrange for a safe drive home or call a taxi or Uber. Drunk driving, whether it is in a motor vehicle, or on a bike, does not always end well for the operator of the vehicle or the cyclist. Driving while intoxicated (also known as "DWI") can not only lead to criminal charges or highway traffic tickets but can lead to serious injury or even death. While a qualified defense attorney may be able to advocate a strong case against the prosecution, it is always better to avoid the situation in the first place.

Being under the influence of alcohol in any situation can be dangerous, especially when you are behind the wheel. Even on a bicycle, you are putting other motorists at risk. Some people think it is safe to have a couple of pints and then bike home, but the fact is, hundreds of cyclists are injured or killed every year. In a motorized vehicle, there is at least some protection, but on a bike, even the protective equipment does not fare well against thousands of pounds of steal. We always recommend organizing a ride home before you begin consuming alcohol.

If you require legal help or more information, please contact our law office at 905-546-1990 for a free consultation. Our law office is happy to service Hamilton, Burlington, Oakville, Mississauga, Toronto, Stoney Creek, and the surrounding area.


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