It’s commonly known that operating a motor vehicle, such as a car, commercial truck, or motorcycle, is illegal while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. However, what most people do not realize is that it is likewise illegal to ride a bicycle while under the influence, otherwise known as a CUI charge, described California Vehicle Code section 21200.5. While the laws for both a CUI and a DUI are similar, the one key difference is there is no minimum blood alcohol content to be charged with a CUI offense. This means that you can be charged with CUI with any trace of alcohol found in your blood, even a .01% result.
This offense may seem minor, and occurs frequently in the areas surrounding college campuses where bicycling is prevalent. Culprits are usually discovered by violating a different cycling law, such as running a stop sign, and are then pulled over, where the influence of drugs or alcohol is discovered. Officers are not required to obtain a breathalyzer test in order to charge you with a CUI offense, though you are allowed to request a blood test at that time, and upon doing so the arresting office must conduct the test.
What Entails a CUI?
The law was added to the California Vehicle Code in 1985, and while it is significantly less severe in nature as compared to a DUI, the consequences for being found guilty can still leave a lasting impact on your life. For starters, a CUI charge is considered a misdemeanor which does mean you retain a personal criminal record that can follow. However, the good news is a CUI does not carry any jail time as a sentence, unlike a DUI which can.
Common CUI Defenses
The three aspects to the CUI law simply require that you were 1) riding a bicycle, 2) on a highway, 3) under the influence of drugs or alcohol or both. While all three of these must be proven to be present in order for a CUI conviction to be given, disproving one of the three becomes difficult.
Many people claim that they were not on the highway while operating their bicycle, however even that is a difficult defense as those riding a bike on a public sidewalk must also adhere to the laws of riding while on the road, thus making you eligible to be charged with a CUI still.
As with any DUI case, if you have been arrested or charged with a CUI offense, you should not hesitate to seek legal representation for your arraignment. A skilled attorney can assist you by analyzing the evidence of your case to determine the best course of action.
Hutton & Wilson is a Pasadena-based DUI firm with more than 65 years of combined criminal defense experience, including hundreds of DUI-related jury trials. We are Board Certified Specialists in Criminal Law as well as the only “Recognized Leaders©” in DUI law in Los Angeles County. Our skilled team puts your needs as a client first and works quickly to help you within the 10-day period you have to file for a hearing with the DMV.