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The Penalty for Cycling Under the Influence

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The Penalty for Cycling Under the InfluenceThere are several modes of transportation others than cars and trucks that are illegal to operate while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. You could be charged for being under the influence while operating a boat, riding a motorcycle, or even riding a horse. Then there is the criminal offense of cycling under the influence. Unlike many other states, California has a separate law that addresses CUI offenses. The consequences are not as severe as being convicted for driving under the influence, but it is still not a conviction that you want on your criminal record.

Charge and Penalties

The rules of a bicycle traffic stop are similar to stops involving motor vehicles:

  • Police are allowed to stop anyone who they reasonably suspect may be under the influence;
  • The officer will look for signs that the cyclist is intoxicated, such as bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, and lack of balance;
  • The officer will ask questions to better understand the cyclist’s condition;
  • The officer may arrest the cyclist if they have probable cause to believe the cyclist is legally intoxicated; and
  • The blood alcohol concentration limit for a cyclist is 0.08.

Cycling under the influence is a misdemeanor offense, punishable by a $250 fine. There would be no jail time, but the conviction would remain on your criminal record. People younger than 21 who are convicted of CUI may lose their driving privileges for a year or be prohibited from applying for a driver’s license for a year.


Some of the defense tactics for a DUI charge also work for a CUI charge. Police must establish reasonable suspicion and probable cause leading up to your arrest. You can argue that you were not intoxicated. CUI has other defense strategies that may apply:

  • CUI can occur when you are riding on a public street or sidewalk but not when you are on a private road or driveway;
  • Road conditions or obstacles may have caused your seemingly erratic riding behavior; and
  • An officer must observe you for 15 minutes before administering a breath alcohol test to ensure that you do not do anything that may cause an inaccurately high BAC reading, such as eating, drinking, smoking, burping, or vomiting.

Contact a Napa County DUI Defense Attorney

Law enforcement takes CUI seriously because offenders are putting themselves and others in danger. Though a cyclist hitting a car might not injure the vehicle’s occupants, drivers may get into accidents while trying to avoid a drunken cyclist. A Richmond, California, DUI defense attorney at Burglin Law Offices, P.C., can help you if you are accused of cycling under the influence. Schedule a free consultation by calling 415-729-7300.



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