Colorado is home to some of the most bike-friendly cities in America. And with initiatives like Bike to Work Day and special bikeways across Colorado, it is no surprise that the economic impact of biking and walking combine to total $4.8 billion.
But Colorado is also known for its strong emphasis on safety. While The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) encourages residents to travel by bike, the CDOT also reminds cyclists that they must use Colorado’s roads and highways responsibly. This means refraining from riding a bicycle after drinking. Below is a look at some situations that could result in DUI on a bike and the associated penalties you could face.
When is it possible to get a DUI on a bike?
Colorado treats bicyclists like automobile drivers while they are on the road. This means that cyclists must follow the same laws that apply to drivers of vehicles. Additionally, cyclists must adhere to Colorado bike laws while on the road. Noncompliance with any of these laws will attract the attention of law enforcement officials and heighten your risk of DUI while cycling. Here are some specific situations that may put you at increased risk for DUI:
- Riding your bicycle without using your hands to steer
- Holding on to a moving motor vehicle while you are cycling
- Carrying multiple people on your bicycle
- Impeding traffic while riding your bicycle
- Failing to ride in the right-hand lane or close to the right-hand side of the road
“Any person riding a bicycle shall ride in the right-hand lane. When being overtaken by another vehicle, such person shall ride as close to the right-hand side as practicable. Where a paved shoulder suitable for bicycle riding is present, persons operating bicycles shall ride on the paved shoulder.” – Colorado Department of Transportation
As described above, you are more apt to receive a DUI on a bike if you are exhibiting behavior that violates Colorado Bike Laws or Colorado’s Rules of the Road for drivers. But the best way to avoid DUI on a bike is to refrain from drinking alcohol before you ride your bike.
What are the legal limits you need to keep in mind?
The legal limit for DUI while operating a motor vehicle is 0.08. But according to Colorado law, you are considered to be “driving while ability impaired” if your BAC is 0.08. Additionally, Colorado DUI laws are especially stringent for younger bicycle riders. If you are under the age of 21, you can be considered impaired with a BAC of just 0.02:
“A bicycle rider with a BAC between 0.05 % up to 0.08 % is presumed by law to be “driving while ability impaired”. If the BAC is 0.08 % or greater, he is presumed to be driving under the influence. Further, if the bicycle rider is under 21, it takes a BAC of only 0.02 to be presumed DUI.” – Brad Tucker, President of Bicycle Colorado’s Board of Directors
What penalties could you face for DUI on a bike?
Because Colorado treats DUI while riding a bike like DUI for driving a motor vehicle, the penalties for DUI are similar. DUI is typically treated as a misdemeanor in Colorado unless you already have three separate DUI convictions. In this case DUI is a Class 4 felony. If you are charged with DUI on a bike, you may face the following penalties:
- Mandatory public service: Depending on your BAC and your DUI history, you may be required to complete 24-120 hours of public service.
- Suspension of your license: Your license could be suspended for 9 months to 5 years based on your number of qualifying DUI offenses.
- Financial penalties: DUI offenders may face fines ranging from $600 to $1,500. Fines typically increase in cases that involve an injury.
- Jail time: Depending on your total number of DUI offenses, you could find yourself facing between 2 days and 2 years in jail.
- Points on your license: You can expect 12 points to be placed on your license if you are convicted of DUI.
- Ignition interlock device (IID): You may be required to have an IID placed on your vehicle even though your DUI offense occurred on a bike.
What should you do if you find yourself facing DUI charges?
If you are pulled over by the police for DUI, the best thing to do is remain calm and follow their instructions. Take the breathalyzer and field sobriety test as instructed and politely comply with requirements. Then, if you are charged with DUI, contact a DUI attorney right away.
Whether you are charged with DUI while driving an automobile or while riding your bike, it is important to seek legal guidance fast. With an experienced DUI attorney in your corner, you can boost your chances of avoiding the harshest penalties. More importantly, you will better position yourself for the best possible outcome in your case.