Learn All About Biking Under the Influence in California
The battle against drunk drivers has reached a new target: bicyclists. Police officers in California and states across America are cracking down on BUI. It appears that citizens are attempting to circumvent the drunk driving laws by taking their bicycles to the bar instead of a motor vehicle. Well, guess what?! DUI bicycle California Code 21200.5 prevents people from operating a bicycle while drunk. Do not let yourself be the example for the police by biking drunk and instead try to have a sober driver bring you home after a night of drinking.
Each year cyclists across the country are involved in accidents that result in serious injury and in some cases death. Consequently, biking is considered a dangerous sport and cyclists must adhere to many of the same laws as motorists. Biking is made all the more dangerous when the rider has been drinking and as a result, California is one of the many nations that have laws against BUI. However, in the vehicle code of California a bike is not considered a car and therefore has different DUI laws. One reason for this is that BUI is considered much less dangerous to the rider and others on the road than DUI is. Therefore, the repercussions of a DUI are much harsher than for a BUI. Lawmakers in California were cognizant that section 21200.5 would be met with anger if those convicted of BUI faced jail time, license suspension, and/or mandatory treatment programs.
Biking Under the Influence in California Penal Code 21200.5
Under California Penal Code 21200.5 it is illegal for someone to ride a bike while intoxicated, on an illegal drug, or on a combination of drugs and alcohol. If someone is convicted of this crime, the maximum penalty is a fee of $250. Cyclists convicted of BUI between the ages of 13 and 21 will have their driver’s license suspended for one year or have the issuance of their license delayed by one year. When stopped for a BUI, riders have the right to dispute the officer’s assessment by requesting a breath, blood, or urine test be conducted to determine their blood alcohol level.
Just as a police officer has justification to stop a motorist, so too do the officers require cause to stop a cyclist. In California, a cyclist must obey all the same traffic laws as a motorist and must remain as close to the right curb of the roadway as possible. Cyclists can be stopped by the police for failure to yield, riding erratically, or riding at night without adequate lights. Once pulled over, a police officer can inspect the bicycle to determine that it can be safely operated. If the brakes, handlebars, or lights do not work than the rider may face additional penalties.
If arrested for a BUI, a common mistake by defendants is to not hire an attorney because they believe the case to be futile or trivial. However, hiring an attorney remains your best chance of having a BUI charge dismissed or won in Court. Some of the most common explanations that an attorney can offer as an explanation for the BUI are: the cyclist was swerving to avoid an object in the road or that there is an innocent reason for why the defendant has the physical characteristics of being intoxicated. Furthermore, one of the most common reasons why cases are dismissed and one that only an attorney is likely to know is that if the defendant requests a blood test than the police officer must observe them for fifteen minutes before administering the test. During this period the officer must observe the defendant to ensure that they consume food, drink, or smoke as this can lead to an inaccurate reading. If this examination was not conducted or if the defendant did one of the above observations then the case can be dismissed in Court.
Clearly, Biking Under the Influence in California Vehicle Code section 21200.5 is designed to keep the roads safe for everyone. Therefore, if you find yourself charged with BUI hire an attorney to help you fight your case in Court. If located in Orange County one of the most-respected and well-qualified attorneys is Christopher McCann. Contact him today and discuss your case during a free appointment.
About Guest Post Author:
Christopher J McCann is a Criminal Defense and DUI Attorney serving Southern California, including Orange County and Los Angeles County. You can follow my tweets on Twitter at @CJM_Law_Firm.