Bicycling Under the Influence

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Two People Riding BicyclesBiking is becoming an increasingly common way of traveling the roadways in cities and towns across the United States, and, as with any other method of transportation, safety is a concern.  Laws against drunk driving are relatively apparent but what about biking under the influence?

The dangers of drunk driving are apparent and so are the consequences of being charged with a DUI.  But, for bicyclists pedaling home after a few drinks at the bar the rules and consequences aren’t so clear.

According to an article from the Huffington Post, this is an issue that is taken rather lightly by citizens and lawmakers.  Events in cities and towns nationwide actually encourage people to head home on their bike after a boozy night out despite well-documented dangers of bicycling under the influence.

Nationally, nearly 25% of bicycling deaths involve an intoxicated rider.  A drunken bicyclist is less likely to wear a helmet and more likely to take unnecessary risks on the road, similar to how a drunk driver is less likely to buckle their seatbelt and more likely to speed.

The article states that bicycling is up by 40% nationwide, which means that bicycles are replacing cars at a significant rate.  If that percentage continues to increase, intoxicated riders are also likely to increase — as well as officers enforcing laws against those intoxicated riders.

Unfortunately, there is great disparity in state laws regarding bicycling under the influence.  Some states have specific laws that prohibit operating a bicycle under the influence, and some states apply existing laws against drunk driving to drunk bicycling.

In other states, police officers can stop bicyclists who are too intoxicated and transport them to a safer place or hold them in protective custody, but they cannot make an arrest. In states with no specific laws against bicycling under the influence, it is possible that an intoxicated cyclist can be arrested for other offenses such as public intoxication or disorderly conduct.

After years of experience handling DWI cases in Louisiana, we have seen first-hand the negative effects that driving under the influence of alcohol can have on someone’s life.  People charged with a DWI in Louisiana can face serious charges, and serious consequences.

We know Louisiana DWI law like the back of our hands and, though we never condone operating any type of vehicle after consuming alcohol, we know the possible defenses for someone who has been charged with a DWI.

As for bicycling while intoxicated in Louisiana and the rest of the country, time will tell whether charges and punishments will match up with driving while intoxicated.  But, if you have any questions about Louisiana DWI, or have been charged with a DWI, contact the attorney at Harmon, Smith & Vourvoulias, LLC.

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Categorized as Blog, DUI, DWI

By George Vourvoulias

George is a founding member and managing member of Harmon, Smith & Vourvoulias L.L.C., a New Orleans law firm. George concentrates his practice in maritime personal injury, construction litigation, personal injury, workers' compensation, medical malpractice, and DUI defense. George Vourvoulias's Google+ Profile