Driving a car while under the influence can land you with a driving while intoxicated (DWI) charge, but that is not the case when riding a bicycle. A bicycle is not a motor vehicle, so the laws regarding someone charged with a DWI with a motor vehicle in New Jersey do not apply to cyclists. Because there are no DWI penalties per se, that does not mean there are no legal consequences to riding a bicycle while intoxicated, and it is not the method someone should use to get to and from their local bar. In addition, riding a bike while intoxicated is just as dangerous, if not more so, than driving while under the influence.
Disorderly Persons and Other Offenses
Someone stopped by law enforcement for operating a bicycle while drunk can face legal consequences, even though they will not be charged with a DWI. They may face arrest on a disorderly persons charge and/or public intoxication. A disorderly persons offense may result up to six months in jail and a fine up to $1,000.
Cyclists must obey the rules of the road, such as traveling in the same direction as traffic. If a police officer stops a cyclist, it is likely because that person is not obeying such rules and it may result in a traffic ticket. Some of these charges can affect the cyclist in terms of employment, along with loan applications, since a disorderly persons conviction will show up on a background check.
Drinking and Cycling Dangers
A person who rides their bike while under the influence subjects themselves to great danger. Even when not drunk, bicyclists are no match for an automobile. There is nothing protecting the cyclist, so any encounter with a motor vehicle can have fatal consequences or cause serious, permanent injury. When alcohol is added to the mix, the odds of an accident increase, as do the odds of fatality or severe injury. Riding a bicycle while drunk can cause property damage and harm to other people as well. A bike going along at a good rate of speed can knock over pedestrians, causing injury or even fatality.
Other State Laws
Even though bike riders driving under the influence in New Jersey are not charged with a DWI, that is not the law in other states. In addition to a DWI, in other states, cyclists may find themselves charged with reckless driving. It all comes down to how a state defines a vehicle, and while bicycles are not motor vehicles, some states define vehicles as any form of transportation.
South Jersey DWI Lawyers at Gigliotti Law Group Advocate for Those Affected by DWI Charges
If you or a loved one has been arrested for a DUI, you need the services of the experienced South Jersey DWI lawyers at Gigliotti Law Group. Call us today at 844-742-7591 for a free consultation or contact us online. With an office located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, we proudly serve clients from the surrounding areas.