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The Law: Cycling Under the Influence

Riding a bicycle under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicants is a violation of California Vehicle Code Section 21200.5 and is a crime punishable by a fine of not more than two hundred fifty dollars ($250):

“Notwithstanding Section 21200, it is unlawful for any person to ride a bicycle upon a highway while under the influence of an alcoholic beverage or any drug, or under the combined influence of an alcoholic beverage and any drug. Any person arrested for a violation of this section may request to have a chemical test made of the person’s blood, breath, or urine for the purpose of determining the alcoholic or drug content of that person’s blood pursuant to Section 23612, and, if so requested, the arresting officer shall have the test performed. A conviction of a violation of this section shall be punished by a fine of not more than two hundred fifty dollars ($250). Violations of this section are subject to Section 13202.5.”

California cyclists suspected of cycling under the influence may be asked to complete a field sobriety test such as the walk and turn test. Many police officers neglect to advise drivers and cyclists that these tests are optional. Field sobriety tests are designed to be failed and will almost always be used to the disadvantage of the cyclist.

A cyclist arrested for cycling under the influence must submit to a chemical test to determine blood alcohol content (BAC). Unlike the laws governing vehicles, which set a “Per Se” upper limit of .08 percent BAC, there is no magic number in a CUI case.