We’ve heard it time and again, and we’ve talked about it immensely on our blog; driving a vehicle while intoxicated is illegal. We’ve also come to establish, thus far, that the same applies to horses, boats, and golf carts. However, have you ever wondered whether the same laws and restrictions apply to bicycles and scooters? If so, what are the repercussions? Buckle up because you’re just about to find out.
Defining DUI In California
DUI laws tend to vary by state, but there are a few aspects that apply to all. According to California law, “It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage to drive a vehicle.” The term “vehicle” is defined broadly, but Section 670 of the California Vehicle Code defines it as any device that can be propelled, moved, or drawn upon a highway. Standard DUI charges apply to any device categorized as a vehicle like a boat and a golf cart.
DUI on Bikes
Generally, DUI laws make it is illegal to operate a vehicle while intoxicated. When it comes to cyclists, the issue is whether the bike falls under the vehicle category. Although many states treat bicycles as vehicles, the reality is that drunk cycling is far less fatal than drunk driving. There are fewer accidents attributed to drunk cyclists than drunk drivers, which is why advocates feel that there should be an entirely different law governing “biking under the influence.”
A few states have made efforts towards this, and California is one of them. California has a specific law against cycling or riding bicycles under the influence in Section 21200.5 of the Vehicle Code. Like all minor offenses, a CUI conviction is a misdemeanor that carries a $250 fine and may lead to a license suspension if you’re under the age of 21.
This law mostly applies to pedal bicycles, but circumstances might be different for motorized or electric bikes. California does not have a law that applies to the intoxicated riding of an electric or motorized bicycle, but these presumably operate in the same manner as motor vehicles. By this understanding, one can presume that anyone caught riding a motorized bike while intoxicated could face standard DUI charges.
DUI on Electric Scooters
Over the past few years, e-scooters have exploded in popularity as people increasingly become more conscious about the environment. Motorized and e-scooters are also subject to most of the same traffic laws as regular cars.
Unlike the ambiguity around bikes, California has a relatively concise law that applies to electric scooters. The governing law for scooter operators is Section 21221.5 of the Vehicle Code, which prohibits operating a motorized scooter while intoxicated with alcohol or drugs.
The standard DUI law requires the BAC level to be over 0.08%. On the other hand, there is no per se law on the BAC limit for riding scooters under the influence, which means you can still be guilty if your BAC is well below the 0.08% limit. It should be worth mentioning that suspected scooter operators are also not subject to California’s implied consent law we previously discussed in our “Warning! You’ve consented to California drawing your blood!” article. The implied consent law gives law enforcement officers to compel scooter operators under suspicion to do a BAC test, but scooter operators have dodged a bullet on this one. While they can’t be forced to take a chemical test, they can request one if they believe it will help prove their sobriety.
Intoxicated scootering carries a similar penalty as intoxicated a CUI with a $250 fine, but your driving license and driving record may not be impacted.
Now that we understand a little more about what the law says about bikes, scooters, and intoxication, we should still keep in mind that a misdemeanor can have rippling effects, no matter how trivial, on your life. We recommend starting an expungement process as soon as you qualify for one. If you’re currently facing charges for a scooter DUI or CUI, consider hiring a defense attorney with extensive DUI case experience. Criminal Defense Hero Attorney Don Hammond has a reputation for helping his clients solve their DUI problems. Give us a call at +1 323-529-3660 to book your first consultation.