In many states, biking under the influence of alcohol or drugs is an actual DUI offense, meaning you can be charged with a DUI if operating a bicycle while unlawfully intoxicated. Much of it depends on the wording of the state's DUI definition.
In Illinois, biking under the influence is not an offense exactly. That, however, does not mean you can get drunk and ride a bike without consequence. At Dolci & Weiland, our criminal defense attorneys explain what it could mean for you if you ride a bicycle under the influence of alcohol or drugs and are stopped by the police. If you have further questions about something like this happening or if you have been arrested under similar circumstances, contact our law office and schedule a free initial consultation. We will review your case and outline your best options.
What is biking under the influence in Illinois?
Do you like to ride your bike to work, for sport, or for recreation? Many people do in and around the greater Chicago metro area. In fact, more and more people are also using their bicycles as their primary form of transportation. This comes as no surprise as gas prices continue to increase alongside serious concerns for the environment.
Sometimes, though, people who bike – like those who drive – consume an alcoholic beverage and then hop on the bike to peddle home. That can be a scary situation for just about anyone: you (, other bicyclists, pedestrians, and motorists – depending, of course, on your biking route. But – like those who drive – can this turn into an illegal act that can be cause for a DUI arrest?
The Illinois Vehicle Code at 625 ILCS 5/11-501 states that a person cannot drive or be in "actual physical control of any vehicle" while under the intoxication of alcohol or drugs. A vehicle, according to 625 ILCS 5/1-100, is
Every device, in, upon or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway or requiring a certificate of title under Section 3-101(d) of this Code, except devices moved by human power...
According to the State's definition of "vehicle," the following vehicles are subject to DUIs:
- golf cars
A bicycle, however, does not qualify because it is "moved by human power." Therefore, Illinois is not a state where its DUI laws apply to bicycles the same as they do vehicles.
This, however, does not mean there will not be consequences for biking while under the influence of alcohol or drugs in or around the greater Chicago metro area.
What are the consequences of biking under the influence in Illinois?
The consequences of riding your bike after drinking alcohol or consuming marijuana or another drug are many. Alcohol and drugs impair the senses. Riding a bike is a dangerous activity even when you are in control of all your senses, and all the more dangerous when you are not in complete control.
So, when you ride a bike while intoxicated by alcohol or drugs, you put both yourself at risk and everyone around you. If an officer witnesses you riding your bike and suspects you are intoxicated, you could be stopped and questioned. This can result in an arrest for disorderly conduct or a citation for traffic violations.
Disorderly conduct in Illinois is a criminal offense governed by 720 ILCS 5/26-1. This statute is comprehensive and covers criminal acts ranging from misdemeanors to felonies. Like the Illinois DUI statute, this statute does not specifically address biking under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Rather, you can be charged with this offense for certain acts you do while drunk and biking. You won't actually be charged with this offense for biking while drunk. Some relevant acts banned by the statute include:
- breaches of the peace (the most relevant);
- false reports of violence;
- false fire alarms;
- calling 911 without a valid reason;
- peeping-Tom type invasion of privacy;
- among other acts that are less relevant.
Breach of the peace is defined under 720 ILCS 5/26-1(a)(1). It occurs when a person:
Does any act in such unreasonable manner as to alarm or disturb another and to provoke a breach of the peace...
Examples of breaches of the peace include:
- public intoxication
- public urination
- public brawls
- loud shouting or obscenities
- disrupting a public assembly.
When charged with disorderly conduct under these circumstances, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you:
- knowingly committed an act
- in a manner so unreasonable
- that it alarmed or disturbed at least one other person and
- that it provoked a breach of the peace.
Generally speaking, the statute is vague – intentionally so that it can cover as many acts as possible. Though this is to the police officer's advantage when arresting you, it is also to our advantage when defending you. It gives us room to argue that the act was indeed not unreasonable and did not provoke a breach of the peace.
Bicyclists are subject to all the same traffic rules as motorists are. You must stop at stop signs. You must yield when appropriate. You must stop at pedestrian crosswalks for pedestrians. You must ride in the same direction as traffic. You cannot ride on sidewalks unless specifically permitted. You must obey all the same traffic signs as motorists must. If you fail to do any of these or other rules of the road applicable to bicyclists, you could be ticketed.
And if drinking impairs your faculties and causes you to go when you should have actually stopped, then you could get ticketed The ticket, however, will only address the failure to adhere to the rules of the road and not to drunk biking.
Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Today
If you have been arrested for disorderly conduct because you were biking while intoxicated, the charge could result in possible jail or fines if convicted. Even if not, a conviction still results in a criminal record, and that leads to collateral consequences sometimes more serious than any punishment the judge can order. Contact Dolci & Weiland today to schedule a free consultation.