Many people are surprised to learn that riding a bicycle while under the influence of alcohol is illegal in the state of Georgia. Unfortunately, all too often, people learn about this law after receiving a ticket for riding under the influence. The information below is written in the hopes of educating the general public about the DUI laws of Georgia before they get charged with a crime.
A Bicycle is a “Vehicle” under Georgia Law
Title 40 of the Georgia Code governs motor vehicles and traffic. Georgia Code § 40-6-291 applies the traffic laws of Georgia not just to motor vehicles, such as cars, motorcycles, and scooters, but also to bicycles, with few exceptions. Put another way, under the law, a bicycle is a vehicle just as a car is a vehicle.
Because a bicycle is a vehicle under state law, it is possible to be arrested and charged with the crime of biking while intoxicated.
Understanding Georgia's DUI Laws
Georgia DUI laws are codified in the Georgia Code § 40–6–391. As a starting point, a person must either be driving or in physical control of the vehicle, in this case, the bike, in order to be guilty of biking while intoxicated. Next, one of the following situations must be true:
- A person is under the influence of alcohol, such that it is less safe for that person to drive than an average person not under the influence of alcohol.
- Alternatively, a person is under the influence of a drug, which renders him or her a less safe driver than the average person not under the influence.
- A person intentionally uses glue, an aerosol, or other toxic vapor with the purpose of being influenced by the substance, which creates a situation wherein it is less safe for that person to drive.
- Any combination of use of alcohol, drugs, or intoxicants such as glue, aerosol, or other toxic vapors which, when combined, make it less safe for the person to drive.
- When a person has a blood alcohol concentration of .08 grams or more within three hours of either driving or riding a bike, or having been in physical control of the bike, where the alcohol was consumed prior to riding or being in control of the bike.
- Any amount of a non-prescribed controlled substance, including marijuana, is present in a person's system, including metabolites and derivatives of each, without regard to whether the person is intoxicated.
- For a prescribed controlled substance, if the person is legally taking a prescription, he or she is only guilty of a DUI when he or she is impaired by the medication.
As you can see, there is any number of ways one can be charged with cycling under the influence. Whether law enforcement has probable cause to believe you are cycling under the influence, however, is a different standard than whether or not the government can prove you were cycling under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Because the standards for arrest and conviction are different, each case should be carefully examined to determine whether there is a basis to challenge the charges.
Consequences of a Cycling Under the Influence Charge
Cycling under the influence is a misdemeanor offense in Georgia. Misdemeanors are punishable by up to 12 months in jail, and a fine of up to $1,000. Most people facing bicycling under the influence charges in Georgia are not facing the maximum penalties allowed by law. Nonetheless, there are consequences to a cycling under the influence conviction. In addition to potential jail time and a fine, persons convicted of cycling under the influence are facing probation for a period of time. This means they are expected, at a minimum, to remain law-abiding and to stay in touch with their probation agents, providing information such as their current address and phone number.
Further, while many people consider a DUI a simple “traffic offense,” a misdemeanor is a criminal conviction. This means when filling out job applications or applying for an apartment, if asked “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?” the answer is “yes” after a conviction for cycling under the influence of alcohol. Unlike some other criminal charges, it is very difficult to expunge a conviction related to a driving while under the influence type charge.
Depending on the facts of a given case, it is possible a cycling while under the influence charge may be either reduced to a less serious charge or even dismissed. Each case rises and falls on its own set of facts. Careful review of the facts is absolutely necessary to provide a defense.
Consequences of Driving Privileges
In DUI cases involving cars, drivers face the loss of their driving privileges for a period of time. The length of time the privileges are lost depends on whether one has prior DUIs, the number of prior DUIs, and the amount of alcohol in their system. This is not true in cases involving cycling under the influence.
A conviction for cycling under the influence does not result in the loss of driving privileges.
Facing DUI Charges?
If you are facing charges stemming from cycling under the influence, you have rights. You should not plead guilty to charges without carefully consulting with an attorney. Hall County DUI attorney Richard S. Lawson focuses exclusively on DUI practice.
With over 20 years of experience, our firm can assist you in your case. We carefully review the evidence with an eye towards legitimate legal challenges, from the reason you were detained to the basis for the request for a breath sample to the validity of the test results, we leave no stone unturned. Contact us today for a consultation. Don't face your cycling while under the influence charge alone. Your future is too important for that. Let the experienced Hall County DUI attorneys at the Law Offices of Richard S. Lawson help you fight your charges.