A cyclist is in the hospital with a traumatic head injury after colliding with a car Sunday, August 1, 2019 around 5 p.m. According to police at the scene, the cyclist was riding southbound on College Oak near Auburn Boulevard when he was stuck by a motorist.
It’s unclear which direction the motorist was going when the accident occurred. Police also say that the cyclist, between 16 and 20 years of age, “smelled like alcohol.” The driver of the car remained at the scene and cooperated with police.
Drinking and Riding
In California, it’s illegal to drink and ride a bicycle while impaired on any public street the same as if the cyclist was driving a car. CVC 2100 This means that if a cyclist is impaired and gets caught by police, he or she can be charged with a DUI with the same charges as a motor vehicle operator.
In California, 37 percent of all bicyclist fatalities involve impairment by either rider or driver. Of those who died, 25 percent happened where the bicyclist was impaired while only 7 percent were from impaired motorists.
So why is the number of impaired cyclists so high? Traffic safety experts say that first, many cyclists ride instead of driving after they have been drinking. It’s speculated that some don’t realize that it’s illegal while others do, but feel that it’s overall safer than driving a car.
Second, most cyclists don’t realize how much of in increased risk cycling while impaired is to themselves. But the numbers don’t lie. If there were no impaired cyclists in California—which has an average 154 cyclist deaths a year—then around 39 cyclists each year might still alive today.
Impaired Cycling and Liability
If you are impaired while cycling, you are taking a huge risk of getting into a serious or fatal accident, and if the accident is the other person’s fault, being intoxicated could make getting compensation more difficult. However, it doesn’t’ make it impossible.
Here’s how it works: In any accident, the person who is negligent will be at fault for the accident. In a cyclist-motor vehicle accident, the cyclist is almost always the one that gets injured, and if the driver is at fault, then he or she is liable for the cyclists’ injuries. However, if the cyclist is at fault, then the driver isn’t liable, and the cyclist will have to pay for their own injuries.
So the question is, if the cyclist is impaired, does that automatically make him or her negligent? The answer is no. The law looks at the actions of the driver and the cyclist that led up to the accident, and whichever driver did something careless or negligent will be the at-fault driver or cyclist.
However, if the case goes to a jury, the fact that the cyclist was impaired can be something that the jury might consider, and they might be reluctant to say the driver was 100 percent at fault if the cyclist was impaired.
What do I do if I’m Injured While I was Cycling and Drinking?
If you are injured, you should talk to an attorney who understands traffic laws, bicycle law and personal injury law. At Bay Area Bicycle Law, we know all of these, and we offer a free consultation where we can inform you of the law and evaluate your case.
Bay Area Bicycle Law is the only firm in northern California that deals exclusively in bicycle law. Don’t take the word of the insurance agent or their attorneys that you don’t have any compensation coming for your injuries. Call us today at (415) 466 8717 or click here to contact us online. If you still wonder if we’re the right firm for you or even if you need an attorney, read this this for help answering your questions.
Please be aware that these case results do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter. Every case is different and case values turn on small facts and differences. Thus, the results achieved on one case do not necessarily mean the attorney will achieve the same result, or a similar result, even for a case which may have some similarities.