Can You Get A DUI On A Bike: Drink cycling laws from around the world


Many responsible drinkers will avoid driving to and from the pub, especially if they know that they will be over the legal limit for driving. However, what most people don’t know is that cycling to the pub could be just as illegal as driving. Certainly, this surprised me, and so I took the time to find out what the rules are for cycling while drunk in different countries. So, can you get a DUI on a bike?

In general, if your country treats a bike as a vehicle (e.g. Germany), then you can be charged with a DUI for cycling while drunk. This means you could be fined, arrested, or even given a driving ban. Some countries that do not treat bikes as vehicles have specific laws in place to make cycling while drunk illegal.

So, we’ve established that it is possible to get a DUI while riding a normal bike, but what are the specific laws in your country? I take a look at the different rules in the US states, Europe, and the rest of the world in the rest of the article.

As a general disclaimer, if you plan to cycle after drinking, it is best to confirm your country or state’s exact laws before you do so. I am not a legal professional, just a guy who likes cycling. The article should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed professional attorney, and readers are urged to consult their own legal counsel on any specific legal questions concerning a specific situation.

Can you get a DUI on a bike?

Why can some countries charge you with a DUI when others cannot?

In general, whether or not you can be charged with driving under the influence (DUI) while cycling on a bike will depend on the specific wording of the state or country you are in. In particular, the important part is whether or not the country in question treats a bike as a “vehicle”.

Many countries, for example, Germany, treat bikes as a vehicle and thus treat dunk cycling with the same severity that they do drink driving, this means that if you get caught over the legal limit while riding a bike you may receive a significant fine, jail time and have a driving suspension.

What are the rules in countries that do not charge you with a DUI?

However, it is important to note that even in countries that do not treat bikes as vehicles and thus cannot charge you with driving under the influence, there are often laws in place that can be used to charge you with cycling while drunk.

For example, most US States that do not charge a cyclist with a DUI can charge them with pubic intoxication or even endangerment offenses.

While the punishment for these is often not as severe as that of driving under the influence, in certain cases they can be harsher, especially if someone becomes injured or you damage property.

In some cases, depending on the judgment of the policeman who finds you to be cycling under the influence, you can even be arrested if they feel you are a danger to yourself or others.

What are the specific rules for the USA, Europe, and the rest of the world?

If you take a look at the table below, you can see the specific rulings in the state or country you are interested in. Remember that even in locations where riding a bike while drunk is not illegal, you will still be liable for any dangerous cycling, racing, or speeding tickets, as well as public indecency or public intoxication laws.

If you want to take a look at your location in more detail you can click on the link in the location name.

LocationCan you get a DUI from riding a bike drunk?Is it legal to ride a bike drunk?
USA
AlabamaYes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)Yes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)
AlaskaNo (Bikes are not treated as vehicles)No (No specific laws)
ArizonaNo (Bikes are not treated as vehicles)Yes (Specific laws)
ArkansasYes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)Yes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)
CaliforniaYes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)Yes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)
ColoradoYes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)Yes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)
ConnecticutYes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)Yes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)
DelawareNo (Bikes are not treated as vehicles)Yes (Specific laws)
FloridaYes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)Yes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)
GeorgiaNo (Bikes are not treated as vehicles)Yes (Specific laws)
HawaiiNo (Bikes are not treated as vehicles)No (No specific laws)
IdahoNo (Bikes are not treated as vehicles)No (No specific laws)
IllinoisNo (Bikes are not treated as vehicles)No (No specific laws)
IndianaYes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)Yes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)
IowaNo (Bikes are not treated as vehicles)No (No specific laws)
KansasNo (Bikes are not treated as vehicles)No (No specific laws)
KentuckyYes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)Yes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)
LousianaNo (Bikes are not treated as vehicles)No (No specific laws)
MaineNo (Bikes are not treated as vehicles)No (No specific laws)
MarylandYes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)Yes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)
MassachusettsNo (Bikes are not treated as vehicles)No (No specific laws)
MichiganNo (Bikes are not treated as vehicles)No (No specific laws)
MinnesotaNo (Bikes are not treated as vehicles)No (No specific laws)
MissouriNo (Bikes are not treated as vehicles)No (No specific laws)
MontanaNo (Bikes are not treated as vehicles)No (No specific laws)
OklahomaNo (Bikes are not treated as vehicles)No (No specific laws)
OregonYes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)Yes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)
PennsylvaniaYes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)Yes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)
Rhode IslandYes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)Yes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)
South CarolinaNo (Bikes are not treated as vehicles)No (No specific laws)
South DakotaYes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)Yes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)
TennesseeNo (Bikes are not treated as vehicles)No (No specific laws)
TexasNo (Bikes are not treated as vehicles)No (No specific laws)
UtahYes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)Yes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)
VermontYes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)Yes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)
VirginiaNo (Bikes are not treated as vehicles)No (No specific laws)
North DakotaYes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)Yes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)
OhioYes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)Yes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)
WashingtonNo (Specific ruling that cyclists are exempt)Yes (Specific laws)
West VirginiaYes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)Yes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)
WisconsinNo (Bikes are not treated as vehicles)No (No specific laws)
WyomingYes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)Yes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)
NebraskaNo (Bikes are not treated as vehicles)No (No specific laws)
NevadaNo (Bikes are not treated as vehicles)No (No specific laws)
New HampshireYes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)Yes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)
New JerseyNo (Bikes are not treated as vehicles)Yes (Specific laws)
New MexicoYes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)Yes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)
New YorkNo (Bikes are not treated as vehicles)No (No specific laws)
North CarolinaYes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)Yes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)
MississippiYes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)Yes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)
Europe
AustriaYes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)Yes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)
BelarusYes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)Yes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)
BelgiumYes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)Yes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)
DenmarkNo (Bikes are not treated as vehicles)Yes (Specific laws)
FranceYes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)Yes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)
GermanyYes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)Yes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)
IrelandNo (Bikes are not treated as vehicles)Yes (Specific laws)
ItalyYes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)Yes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)
NetherlandsYes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)Yes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)
NorwayYes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)Yes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)
SpainYes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)Yes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)
SwedenYes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)Yes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)
SwitzerlandNo (Bikes are not treated as vehicles)Yes (Specific laws)
The UKYes (Bikes are not treated as vehicles)Yes (Specific laws)
Rest of the world
AustraliaYes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)Yes (Bikes are treated as vehicles)
CanadaNo (Bikes are not treated as vehicles)No (No specific laws)

Can you get a DUI while riding an electric bike?

With the rise in popularity of electric bikes, many riders have started to use these for daily commutes, or even trips to the pub. In these cases, it is particularly important for you to look into your state/country’s laws more clearly to see if electric bikes could be classified as motor vehicles, even if normal bikes could not.

This is because some countries classify a motor vehicle as any mode of transport that is not human-powered or has a motor. In these cases, an electric bike would be classed as a motor vehicle and thus you could be done for a DUI and face much harsher charges.

In general, the majority of countries do not yet have clear guidance on whether or not they are treating electric bikes as motor vehicles and so it is best to avoid these if you are cycling after drinking.

Should you cycle drunk?

While cycling under the influence may not hold specific laws in your country or state, it is important to remember that riding a bike after drinking can be very dangerous. Studies have shown that you are 10 times more likely to be involved in an accident if you are drunk while cycling than if you are not.

This means that not only could you be a danger to yourself, but you will also be a danger to other road users (if you are cycling on the road) and pedestrians (if you are cycling on the pavement). When it comes to cycling after a drink, the safest thing to do is not cycle at all.

Can I ride a bike if I have a drink-driving ban?

In most countries, if you have been banned from driving following a DUI, there is no restriciton on your ability to ride a normal bicycle. This is because the rules surrounding your driving ban often prohibit you from driving any motorized vehicle. This is the same reason why you cannot drive a moped or motorbike if you have been banned from driving in a car.

However, as with drink driving rules, it is important to confirm whether or not electric bikes would be allowed. For example in the UK, electric bikes are not classed as motor vehicles, but instead put into a specific class of electrically assisted pedal bikes, and thus you would not be banned from using these while under a driving ban.

Overall

As you can see, the laws surrounding drinking and cycling will depend greatly on where it is you are cycling, as well as the type of bike you have.

If you are new to cycling and want to know what other legal requirements cyclists have, take a look at my article on whether or not cyclists have to stop for stop signs and red lights which can be found here.

Mark Holmes

30-year-old doctor with an interest in cycling, bikepacking, and statistics.

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