Is it illegal to be drunk and ride a bike in Arizona? Can you be breath tested on a bicycle? These are important questions to know the answers to if you’re an Arizona resident who may wish to enjoy alcohol and cycling at the same time. It’s also worth looking into if you’ve already received a DUI charge for riding your bicycle under the influence.

There isn’t a law in Arizona which addresses these specific questions in direct words, so it’s important to look closely at the conditions surrounding this matter. That way, you can avoid unpleasant surprises later on.

Arizona DUI Law

DUI law states that you may not drive a vehicle while under the influence. You may receive a DUI (driving under the influence) or a DWI (driving while intoxicated) if you’re on drugs or have been drinking. The legal limit for alcohol while driving a vehicle is a BAC (blood alcohol concentration) of 0.08 percent. 

DUI vs. DWI Charges in Arizona

Both of these charges are very serious under Arizona law. You may be given a DWI if you’ve been driving while under the influence of alcohol only. A DUI, on the other hand, can apply to either alcohol or drugs. To get a DUI charge for alcohol, your BAC can be less than 0.8 if you’re otherwise impaired. You may receive this charge for legal prescription drugs, illegal substances, and marijuana. 

A DWI conviction in Arizona requires the driver’s BAC to be 0.8 or higher and for the alcohol to be measurably present in your body within the 2-hour period before driving.

What is a “Vehicle” in AZ?

In order to understand whether DUI laws apply to bicycles, it’s important to know how the law defines a “vehicle.” Under Arizona law, a vehicle is considered a device by which someone may transport themselves on a public highway, but the definition doesn’t include those which you move by “human power.” 

According to this definition, a DUI arrest for riding a bicycle drunk shouldn’t be possible. But keep in mind, a motorized bicycle isn’t moved by human power, so you could receive a DUI while riding one.

Bicycle DUI Penalties

Arizona is among the states with the harshest penalties for driving drunk. If you’re convicted for the first time, you may have to go to jail for up to 6 months and pay up to $2,500 in fines. This type of conviction goes on your permanent record. It could impact your ability to get a professional license later or your future employment opportunities. In some cases, you might no longer have the right to carry a firearm or vote. 

Is there an alcohol limit for cycling? While it’s not likely, an over-zealous cop could attempt to charge you with a DUI for riding a bicycle while intoxicated. If you did receive one, it’s not likely that the fines or punishments would be as harsh as they would if you had been driving a motor vehicle. 

Can you lose your license for riding a bike drunk? Probably not, but consulting criminal defense advice is best if you’ve been in legal trouble for riding a bike under the influence. 

Potential Defenses for a Bicycle DUI

According to Arizona Revised Statute 28-812, bicyclists must adhere to the same duties as those driving a motorized vehicle. However, if you’ve received a DUI charge while riding a bike, you could make the argument that it doesn’t count as a vehicle according to Arizona Revised Statute 28-101(71). 

Essentially, it’s possible that you could receive a DUI on a bike, so it’s a good idea to remain aware of this risk. If you have already received one, an experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to help you alter the outcome to be more favorable.

Arizona Implied Consent Laws

Arizona’s implied consent laws state that when you obtain your license and operate a vehicle, it’s implied that you’re consenting to breath, urine, and blood tests. This implication applies if an officer has probable cause to suspect you’re impaired while driving. The officer doesn’t need a search warrant to give you a breath test if they think you were driving under the influence. Failure to comply with a test may lead to a revocation of your driver’s license.

Implied consent applies to motor vehicles, and since bicycles aren’t motorized, this rule should not apply. However, there’s always a chance that you could run into trouble for refusing to take a breath test. It’s best to be aware of this risk should you decide to ride a bike while intoxicated.

Other Possible Penalties for Riding a Bike Intoxicated

Even if you don’t get a DUI for riding a bike, you could still receive a citation for reckless behavior, disorderly conduct, or something similar. It’s law enforcement’s duty to protect the public from all possible dangers and a drunk bicyclist could technically lead to an injury. If you’re caught riding a bike intoxicated, the officer may expect you to take a breathalyzer test. Failing the test could lead to complications for you including fines and other legal issues. 

A single charge can lead to many different outcomes. With the right help, you can potentially get less severe penalties. Since your criminal record stays in place until you’re 99 years old, the charge that you end up with (if any) is important. A harsh conviction could lead to difficulty finding work later on, as well as high fees and other problems.

Need Help with a DUI Arrest?

The law concerning DUI charges and bicyclists can be a bit confusing. Ultimately, it’s up to the officer’s discretion whether they want to try to charge or arrest you with driving while intoxicated. If this has happened to you, it’s essential to talk to an experienced criminal defense lawyer who is familiar with similar cases in Arizona. 

Having someone on your side who knows the system can be a huge saving grace. An attorney can answer your legal questions and help you come up with a good defense for your charge.

Call the JacksonWhite Criminal Law team at (480) 467-4370 to discuss your case today.

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