Using a bicycle to get around is a very popular mode of transportation. Bikes are handy for getting to and from work, they are environmentally friendly, you don’t need to pay for gas or insurance, and they are great for exercise and even for going out to socialize. But what if you’ve had a few drinks and want to ride your bike home? Can you be charged for driving under the influence the same way you could if you drove a car?
In this post, we’ll look at the rules of the liquor licence act and the highway traffic act in Ontario and what they say about biking under the influence.
WHAT IS DUI?
DUI or driving under the influence is a criminal offence under the Criminal Code of Canada.
Driving with a blood-alcohol level of .08 or higher or more than two nanograms of THC per millilitre of blood is illegal. If charged with a DUI, you could face a fine, lose your licence or even serve jail time.
In many parts of the world, like Germany and Australia, an individual driving a bike while intoxicated is treated as seriously as if they had been driving a motor vehicle. In these cases, the impaired drivers face fines, demerit points and even jail time. In Canada, operating a motor vehicle while impaired is strictly regulated through the Highway Traffic Act, but the rules around biking are not as regulated.
So what’s the answer? Can I be charged with a DUI for riding my bike home drunk?
THE SHORT ANSWER
No, the short answer is you cannot be charged with a DUI offence if you are intoxicated while riding on a traditional bike in Canada. Only motorized vehicles are specified in the highway traffic act and Criminal Code, and a traditional bike does not have a motor.
If, however, you are riding a motorized bicycle, an electric bike, scooter or a bike with a power-assisted motor, what you are doing is illegal, and you could potentially be charged.
OTHER CHARGES AND VIOLATIONS
While you may not be charged with a DUI for biking home intoxicated, you could be stopped and ticketed for other reasons. As someone riding a bike down the street, you are in public. If you are drunk while riding your bike, you can be charged under the Liquor Licence Act with being intoxicated in public for not consuming alcohol in a licensed establishment or residence.
An officer can also give you a ticket if you are biking carelessly, weaving in and out of traffic or breaking the laws of the road, such as running red lights, not stopping for stop signs or riding on the sidewalk.
Riding a bike while intoxicated is also very dangerous. Alcohol can impair your judgement, delay reactions and make riding a bike very unsafe for you and for others around you. If you have had a few drinks, it is best to treat a bike like you would a vehicle – call for a ride, take public transit or walk your bike home.
For more detailed explanation of drug impaired driving and What a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) is the article Drug Impaired Driving covers these issues.
If you are facing DUI charges from riding a motorized bike while intoxicated, you need an experienced DUI lawyer who can help you understand the charges and get you the best result possible. William Jaksa is an experienced criminal lawyer in Toronto with a decade of experience handling DUI cases. Give him a call today for a consultation on your case.