Most people recognize that driving while intoxicated is a serious offense. If arrested, you could face stiff fines, a license suspension and jail time.
However, the question remains, what happens if police stop you for riding a bicycle while under the influence of alcohol? Do you face the same penalties for operating a motor vehicle while drunk?
While it is unlikely that you would be charged with a DWI for riding a bike while drunk, it is not impossible. The specific details of your case — your blood alcohol level (BAC), whether you injured another person, or caused property damage — will determine whether police arrest you for a DWI. And if police do not arrest you for a DWI, you may be charged with other offenses like negligence or public intoxication.
Ultimately, if you are stopped for riding a bicycle, push scooter, or skateboard after consuming beer, wine, or any other alcoholic beverage, your best bet is to contact a knowledgeable defense attorney.
Your lawyer can quickly review the details of your case, explain the charges against you, and devise a strategic plan of action to protect your record and future.
Is drunk driving on a bicycle a crime in Texas?
Current Texas penal code does not specifically mention drunk driving on a bicycle as a crime. Rather, the law states that to be charged with a DWI, you must be operating a motor vehicle.
According to Texas Penal Code § 32.34, a motor vehicle is defined as, “a device in, on, or by which a person or property is or may be transported or drawn on a highway, except a device used exclusively on stationary rails or tracks.”
As you can see, this definition is broad, and can be open to a certain degree of interpretation by the prosecution. That said, it is unlikely that you would be charged with a DWI for riding a bicycle while under the influence, unless you were wreaking havoc or caught at a police checkpoint.
If the prosecution was in fact to charge you with a DWI for drunk pedaling a bicycle, you could face a variety of penalties, including:
- Up to $2,000 in fines
- Jail sentence of up to 180 days
- 1-year license suspension
Keep in mind that these penalties are for a first DWI offense. Subsequent charges will result in more severe punishments.
Other legal penalties for riding a bike while drunk in Texas
While the chances of being charged for a DWI in Texas are slim, given the popularity of biking as transportation throughout the Lonestar State, it’s not improbable.
And even if you are not charged with a DWI, you could face a number of other legal penalties depending on your BAC and behavior, including:
- Public intoxication — Section 49.02 of the Texas penal code explains that the crime of public intoxication occurs when, “A person commits an offense if the person appears in a public place while intoxicated to the degree that the person may endanger the person or another.” This offense is a Class C misdemeanor and carries a $500 penalty. If convicted, you will also have a criminal record.
- Negligence — If, while riding your bike under the influence, you injure another person, you could face a negligence lawsuit. To prove negligence, the injured party must establish: you had a duty of care, you breached that duty, and your breach of duty was the direct and proximate cause of the damages they suffered.
As bicycling becomes more popular in cities across Texas, lawmakers will likely revisit existing DWI statutes. If you are arrested for drunk riding, or driving, seek competent legal aid immediately.
How a lawyer can help you with a BICYCLE DWI
Whether you are arrested for DWI in a car or on a bicycle, you need experienced representation. Without the help of a skilled defense lawyer, your freedom and future may be at stake.
A knowledgeable criminal law attorney can review your case and help you in the following ways:
- Explain the charges and process — Unless you have a legal background or have been involved with the law in the past, the process may confuse and intimidate you. Your lawyer can alleviate your anxiety about what is going on by explaining the charges against you, the penalties you face, and what to expect on the road ahead.
- Protect your rights — You have certain inalienable rights when police arrest you. Your attorney can review the circumstances of your arrest and ensure those rights were not violated. Further, they can work alongside you and protect your rights throughout your DWI defense case.
- Devise a defense strategy — DWI cases are not open and shut. In fact, there are many strategies that criminal law attorneys can use to defend you. Depending on the details of your arrest, they may question the initial stop, the chemical or breathalyzer test, or field sobriety test. In the case of a bicycle DWI, they may argue that you were not driving a “motor vehicle” as defined by Texas penal code, but rather you chose the safer option of riding a bicycle.
When a DWI threatens your career, education, or future, you must seek experienced legal help. Unlike other states that have fully explained what constitutes a DWI, Texas drunk driving law remains open to interpretation. Remember, depending on your case, you could be charged with a DWI, negligence, and/or public intoxication.
Contact a seasoned criminal defense lawyer in Kingwood, Texas
The Law Office of Andrew Williams has more than 20 years of experience defending Texans like you. Attorney Andrew Williams is Texas Board Certification in Criminal Law and has handled more than 500 DWI and criminal cases.
Whether you are arrested for a DWI, or public intoxication while riding a bicycle, Andrew is ready to fight fervently for your rights. Call 281-358-9111 or contact us online to speak to an experienced defense lawyer today.