Is it Illegal to Ride a Bicycle While Drunk?

Colorado is known as an outdoor paradise for both tourists and locals. With distinct seasons, there is likely an outdoor activity that appeals to almost everyone. One of the most popular pastimes in Colorado, and increasingly across the country, is bike riding. Considering the movement toward building a greener future and living a healthier lifestyle, bicycling has increasingly become a primary mode of transportation for many people. Even individuals that have a motor vehicle will often opt for a bicycle to venture into otherwise crowded neighborhoods on weekends or at night. While doing so can certainly save you time and money, it is important to remember that you must still comply with state law when riding a bicycle. In fact, the Colorado Department of Transportation has even created the Colorado Bicycling Manual to help you make safe informed decisions while bicycling throughout the state.

In addition to these rules, people often wonder whether or not it is truly illegal to operate a bicycle while drunk.

Is it Illegal to Ride a Bicycle While Drunk?

While not technically a motor vehicle because a bicycle is usually human-powered, it still qualifies as a vehicle under state law. In Colorado, rules governing the use of bicycles are covered by Colorado Revised Statutes §42-4-1412. The first subsection of this statute reads, “Every person riding a bicycle or electrical assisted bicycle shall have all of the rights and duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle under this article…” Thus, while bicyclists are legally allowed to share the streets with other vehicles – including motor vehicles – they must do so safely and responsibly with the same rules and regulations applicable to those other vehicles. One clear restriction on the operation of a motor vehicle is doing so under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. Since that restriction applies to the operation of a motor vehicle, it will also apply to any vehicle covered under the article noted above.

As such, it is illegal to ride a bicycle while under the influence of alcohol and drugs. The reason for this is that alcohol and drugs can affect a person’s judgment and ability to operate any type of vehicle safely, posing a risk to them and other people with whom they share the road. As such, any individual operating a bicycle with a blood alcohol concentration of between 0.05% and 0.08% can legally receive a citation for driving while ability impaired, and anyone operating a bicycle with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or above can be cited for driving under the influence. Many of the same penalties attached to these charges while operating a motor vehicle are also attached to them when they are obtained while riding a bicycle, like court appearances and fines. However, you will not receive points on your driver’s license because that penalty only attaches to charges involving a motor vehicle.

Legal Assistance with Charges

Consequences for any citation involving operating a vehicle while impaired or under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs can be intimidating, but utilizing a Colorado criminal defense attorney that has focused their practice on working with individuals facing similar charges can make the process easier to handle. If you are facing alcohol or drug-related charges, contact the criminal defense team at Tiftickjian Law Firm to schedule a consultation where you can find out more about the charges you are facing and the potential consequences if convicted, as well as what options might be available to you in your defense.

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(image courtesy of Alejandro Lopez)