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Is it Illegal to Ride a Bicycle While Under the Influence?

About 130,000 bicycle-related injuries happen every year on the road. At least 1,000 cyclists die every year from bicycle-related incidents. One-third of those deaths correlate directly with bicycle riders having alcohol in their system.

What can we do to prevent further injury and harm to communities as a result of bicycle-related incidents? To keep roads safe for both cyclists and automobile drivers, knowing the laws for safe road practices remains essential.

When you ride a bicycle under the influence, you put yourself as well as others, drivers and pedestrians, at risk for serious injuries and even death. We have the power to prevent this! Read on to learn more about the laws and legal repercussions for bicycle-related DUIs.

Bicycle Laws Explained

While riding bicycles counts as a casual, leisurely activity, many states have laws in place to keep riders safe. Certain laws dictate whether cyclists can bike on a sidewalk as well as the provision of special bike lanes. There are laws in place for drivers to allow space for bike riders, such as passing laws.

Let’s briefly look at an overview of what some of these laws are. Keep in mind, that these laws may vary depending on which state you live in.

Basic Vehicle Laws

Many states legally classify bicycles as vehicles. When the state grants a bike legal status as a vehicle, riders fall under the responsibility to follow the same laws as cars on the road. Also, cyclists can ride in the middle of the road or road lanes as permitted, so long as they honor the same traffic rules.

What does this mean? Essentially, in states where bicycles have the legal status of vehicles, bike riders cannot pass through traffic lights or stop signs. They also legally need to be riding in the same direction as traffic. To keep all riders and drivers safe, laws exist to ensure cyclists maintain proper traffic patterns.

Passing Laws

Vehicle drivers, in areas that have passing laws, need to maintain a minimum distance of 4 feet from other vehicles on the road. This keeps bicycle riders safe from bodily harm, and it maintains general safety on the road for everyone.

If cars need to pass by bicycle riders, they need to keep that four feet distance. Bike riders also need to signal to drivers when they want to pass and when they are about to make turns.

Bicycle Lanes

Laws also regulate and control where cyclists can ride. Many cities in America built designated bicycle lanes to allow cyclists to remain separate from cars. This enables them to ride on most roads, as riding on the sidewalk is illegal for any bike rider over the age of 13.

Bicycle lanes keep riders safe from driving cars on the road. It also keeps pedestrians safe from accidents involving bicycle riders.

Learning More About Bicycle Safety

Cities tend to have a higher percentage of bicycle riders than suburban or rural areas. Because of this, a lot of cities have a large community and cultural support network for new and experienced cyclists.

The city of Philadelphia has a significant amount of (arguably too much) car traffic, and very narrow roads. For this reason, it has a reputation for being one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in America.

The website for the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia offers a valuable resource for bicycle-related education and safety. However, the laws discussed directly relate to local city laws and Pennsylvania state laws. Visit their website using this link.

Is It Illegal to Ride a Bicycle Under the Influence

Short answer: basically, yes. However, whether or not it’s considered a DUI on a bike largely depends on local and state laws about bicycles. As mentioned already, some states legally consider a bicycle on the street as a vehicle. This is not a universal standard federally, so knowing which laws apply to you involves familiarizing yourself with bike policies where you live.

If the law classifies a bicycle as a vehicle in your state, then you could be charged with a DUI for riding a bike under the influence. What does this mean?

If you get charged for a DUI while riding a bike drunk, you could suffer the same legal repercussions typical for drunk (car) drivers. This could range from hefty fines to serving up to a year in prison. In most cases, a first offense only counts as a misdemeanor.

Isn’t that a Bit Much

Bicycle advocates would say that, yes, those consequences seem a bit excessive. Even with the dangers of being intoxicated while on the road, bikes pose far less danger than large motorized vehicles. More likely, drunk bikers are the biggest danger to themselves.

Don’t underestimate the threats posed by drunk bike riding, though, especially at night. While crashing into a bike causes less physical damage, it still causes serious injuries to pedestrians and even car drivers. Someone driving a car who gets cut off or unexpectedly hit by a cyclist could involuntarily react and cause a major collision.

For bike riders, riding a bike home while drunk often becomes the alternative when leaving the bar or a party. Because people consider it safer than driving a car under the influence. But riding a bike drunk puts the cyclist in considerably more danger than if they ride while sober.

Legal Repercussions When Not a DUI

If you happen to live in a state where bicycles do not count as vehicles, or DUI laws explicitly apply to “motor vehicles,” then you still could face legal repercussions. In these cases, you would receive less serious charges. Penalties specifically for bike riders include paying a fine or having your bike impounded.

Riding a Bike Under the Influence in Florida

Incidentally, in Florida, bike owners must follow the same driving laws as car owners. Essentially, Florida courts consider the bicycle legally as a vehicle. Because of that, riding a bicycle under the influence carries serious consequences.

First-time offenders get slapped with a fine of about $1000, and they might have to serve time for up to six months. However, they’d only be charged with a misdemeanor. Bicycle owners may also be required to undergo a psych evaluation.

However, by the third or fourth offense, they could be charged with a felony. Convicted felons have to deal with life-changing consequences such as longer sentencing in jail, losing certain rights, as well as social and professional troubles.

Get Help If You Have Been Injured By A Cyclist Under The Influence

If you or someone you know find yourself injured by a cyclist under the influence, our attorneys specialize in these cases.

Let us help you! Visit us on our site today for our services and expertise.


In short, after a car accident, you may not know your rights. Above all, don’t struggle through the process alone. Actually, our personal injury team is here to help you with any legal needs you might have regarding your accident.

Lastly, let RHINO Lawyers answer your questions and review the facts of your case with a Free Consultation. So, get started by completing the “Free Instant Case Evaluation” or by calling us any time, day or night, at 844.RHINO.77.