You may want to reconsider dragging out your bike the next time you head out to your local bar. Riding while under the influence of both drugs and or alcohol has potential legal consequences. You may have walked out the door expecting to have a good time, but if you get a DUI, you might end up wishing you hadn’t. Understanding the charge as well as the consequences of getting a DUI will help you to navigate the aftermath.

What is a DUI?

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is when the driver is operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The legal limit for what is considered intoxicated is a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% at the time of the arrest. Drugs include prescription and over-the-counter medication such as cough syrup. (Section 9 of the California Driver’s Handbook). Most medications list whether or not a person should drive while taking the medication. DUIs are typically considered to be misdemeanors which means that the sentence or fine is less than a felony. In California, if a person is convicted of a misdemeanor, a person could be fined up to $1,000.00 and face up to a year in a county jail.

Can you be charged with a DUI while riding a bicycle?


Yes. A DUI doesn’t just apply to driving a car. In California, under CA Veh Code § 21200.5 (2022), the law prohibits an individual from riding a bicycle while under the influence. The law sees riding a bike under the influence of drugs or alcohol as a potential risk to the rider, any passersby, and nearby property. If erratic riding under the influence caused a collision or damage to a homeowner’s mailbox, a person could be charged with a DUI.

How can a police officer tell that a rider is cycling under the influence?

There are a few telltale signs that a police officer can use to determine whether a cyclist is under the influence.

  • Trouble with balance
  • Turning oddly
  • Wobbling

What are the consequences of a DUI charge?

In California, if a person is riding a bike on a highway while under the influence, an officer can make an arrest. The person can be subjected to various tests to determine the level of alcohol or drugs in the person’s system as well as their physical and cognitive abilities, or lack thereof, at the time of the arrest. There will be a trial hearing to determine guilt. Under CA Veh Code § 21200.5 (2022), if the person is convicted, the fine is no more than $250.00.

Can a minor receive a DUI while riding a bike?

Teens and young adults are not immune from receiving a DUI charge. If you are charged with a DUI while riding a bike between the ages of 13 and 20, you may face a delay or suspension when you are eligible to drive (Section 9 of the California Driver’s Handbook). If a bicycle is your primary mode of transportation, you may want to think twice before riding while under the influence.


Suddenly, you may find that the bar tab is much higher than you may have initially expected. If you plan to get drunk, don’t get behind the handlebars. Remember, riding a bike while taking a medication, whether it is prescription or over-the-counter, can lead to a DUI charge. If you are arrested, do not resist the arrest as that can only aggravate the situation. Comply with the officer at the moment and resolve any discrepancies later.

Need Help?

If you have been charged with a DUI while riding a bike, or a motor vehicle, the Law Office of David L. Faulkner is here to help you. We will walk you through the process and help you to understand your rights. Contact us for expert legal assistance and navigate the complexities of a DUI with confidence.

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