When police are looking for those who are driving under the influence, their attention is often focused on motorists displaying signs of intoxication. Most people do not think of police focusing a lot of attention on bicyclists that may be impaired, and some may not even know that a cyclist could receive a DUI charge.
Under Pennsylvania law, bicyclists are subject to most provisions that are applicable to motorists, with certain exceptions. A Pennsylvania bicyclist was recently charged with DUI and additional crimes after an officer noticed him wobbling while riding. Pennsylvania courts have discussed this issue before, as a 1993 case clarified the DUI laws for cyclists.
In the case Commonwealth v. Brown, a woman was riding her bicycle down the road in the wrong lane, and collided with a vehicle that was trying to avoid her. Officers that arrived noticed alcohol on the woman's breath, and asked her to consent to a blood-alcohol test. She tested at 0.29, well above the 0.08 limit within the state.
She had argued that the DUI laws did not apply to bicyclists, however, the court did not agree with those arguments. It stated that bicycles were vehicles under the DUI statutes. The court held that vehicles, as defined under the law, are devices that may be used for transportation on a highway. Since the legislature could have used "motor vehicles" if they intended those words, the court felt comfortable applying the law to bicyclists.
Those who are facing DUI charges need to understand the potential penalties that may result if convicted. Jail time and a loss of license will be likely, as will fines. Even after the case has concluded, individuals may still see other impacts, such as increased insurance costs. It is important to understand how to proceed in these cases to help make the best decisions for the future.
Source: wpxi.com "Canonsburg man to trial in drunken bicycling case" August 7, 2012.