If you have lost your driving privileges due to a prior DUI, it may make sense to bike to the bar instead. Alternatively, you may be turning to bicycling rather than driving simply because the weather is getting warmer or you want more exercise. Regardless of the reason, you should know that in Georgia you can actually get a DUI for bicycling while intoxicated.
Bicycles are Vehicles
Under Georgia Code § 40 - 6 - 291, bicycles are considered vehicles. Because they are classified as vehicles, you can be convicted of a DUI if you engage in any of the conduct which could result in a DUI when driving a car. This may seem silly, however, since this is the law, you will be held accountable even if you didn't know this was the law at the time.
Understanding DUI Laws in Georgia
While DUI laws have some commonality from state to state, some laws or portions of laws are Georgia specific. Not all states, for example, consider a bicycle as a vehicle for DUI purposes. Georgia does, however, so the DUI laws must be read presuming the actions of a bicyclist.
Driving and Physical Control
You can find Georgia's DUI laws in the Georgia Code at § 40 – 6 – 391. First, you must understand Georgia's DUI laws cover people driving or being in physical control of any moving vehicle. Riding a bike is the same as driving a car, but what is physical control? Imagine a situation where you and your friend are out drinking, and you have had too much to drink. Your friend offers to give you a ride on their bike, and this makes sense to you because your friend is not drunk. Imagine you are sitting on the bicycle behind your sober friend, who is pedaling and steering the bike. This is no different than if you were a passenger in a car. But imagine you reach around your friend and grab the handlebars. Now you are steering the bike, and you turn it sharply to the right – right into the back of a police car! While your friend may be sober, you may still get a DUI, because you had physical control of the bike when it crashed.
Different Types of Intoxication
One is guilty of a DUI when driving or in physical control of a moving vehicle when one of three things is also true.
- One is under the influence.
- One has a predetermined amount of alcohol in their system.
- One has controlled substances in their system, with other conditions to be discussed below.
Under the Influence
In Georgia, there are many things which, if ingested, can lead to one being under the influence to such an extent it is not safe to drive. These include alcohol, drugs, glue, aerosol, or other toxic vapors. Being under the influence of any of these substances can result in a DUI charge, if one is also operating a vehicle, including a bicycle.
Predetermined Amount of Alcohol
Some people are better able to handle their liquor than others. While some people may be under the influence of alcohol after just two beers, other people may drink a six pack of beer and appear perfectly fine to function. However, the law states if someone's blood alcohol concentration is .08 or greater, within three hours after driving or being in physical control of a vehicle (assuming no drinking between the time of driving or physical control and the time of the test), they are guilty of DUI. This is true even if they don't feel the effects of the alcohol.
The Presence of a Controlled Substance
When one has the presence of a controlled substance in their blood and the controlled substance is illegal under the law, one can be charged with DUI. In other words, if the blood tests positive for cocaine, heroin, or methamphetamine, regardless of whether the person is under the influence of the drug at the time of driving, they can be charged with DUI.
On the other hand, there are some controlled substances that are available by prescription such as oxycodone, codeine, and fentanyl. If someone has a valid prescription for such drugs, and they were not being influenced by the drug at the time of driving or being in physical control, they will not be charged with a DUI. However, if they are taking the drug as prescribed and it influences their ability to drive safely, the fact that they have a valid prescription is not a defense.
Consequences for Bicycling Under the Influence
There are criminal consequences for bicycling under the influence, which is a misdemeanor in Georgia. These consequences can include a fine of up to $1,000 and jail time up to 12 months. Unlike when someone gets a DUI while driving a car, bicyclists do not face license revocation for a DUI.
If You are Facing DUI Charges
There is no substitute for experience. If you are facing DUI charges, you want to hire someone who has the experience necessary to challenge the charges to the fullest extent. Roswell and Alpharetta DUI attorney Richard Lawson has the experience you need to challenge the charges. DUI attorney Richard Lawson has the track record to prove his vast experience. He has been successful in getting cases reduced to lesser charges, or dismissed entirely by challenging stops of vehicles, field sobriety tests, breathalyzer test results, and blood test results, just to name a few. Contact the office for a free consultation with one of our experienced DUI lawyers.