Bike to Work Day, Just No 'BUI' on the Way Home!



Bike To Work But Not Into Trouble: Cycling Under the Influence

As you may know, it’s National Bike to Work Day. And yes, it’s also a Friday! TGIF!
Biking in Colorado is a very popular activity, hobby, and sport. After all, we host one of the country’s only international bike races each fall, bringing riders from the Tour de France, Milan-San Remo, Paris-Roubaix, and Vuelta a EspaƱa competitors to our mountains. Naturally, then, Bike to Work Day is a huge draw for many Coloradoans, especially when the weather cooperates here along the Front Range.

Even for those of us not inclined to cycle on a daily basis, Bike to Work Day is an opportunity to enjoy physical activity, see our regular commute in a different light, and – naturally – check out new restaurants, cafes, and bars while they’re pedaling.  I mean, it’s only natural to get thirsty on a bike ride, especially on a warm, Friday afternoon!  Let this post serve as a word of caution though: National Bike to Work Day is all fun and games until you get busted for Biking Under the Influence on the way home.

Trust me, Biking Under the Influence is Real 

Everyone knows (and fears) Colorado DUI laws, but what many people don’t know is that it is illegal for any person to drive “a motor vehicle or [ANY] vehicle when a person has consumed alcohol or one or more drugs, or a combination of alcohol and one or more drugs, that affects the person to a degree that the person is substantially incapable, either mentally or physically, or both mentally and physically, to exercise clear judgment, sufficient physical control, or due care in the safe operation of a vehicle.”  C.R.S 42-4-1301(1)(f). 

The definitions of the terms “motor vehicle” and “vehicle” are outlined earlier in the statute and do include bicycles.  See, C.R.S. 42-1-102(10) stating, “’Bicycle’ means a vehicle propelled by human power applied to pedals upon which a person may ride having two tandem wheels or two parallel wheels and one forward wheel, all of which are more than fourteen inches in diameter,” and C.R.S. 42-4-1412(1) requiring that “every person riding a bicycle or electrical assisted bicycle shall have all of the rights and duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle under this article.” 
This is a long way of saying, driving drunk applies to bikes!  What’s more, stoned biking is also punishable under Colorado law.  Now that marijuana consumption is legal, this is your friendly reminder that getting behind a wheel or handlebars after consuming the Mary Jane is not.  Next time April 20 rolls around, then, don’t roll into the festivities on a bike or in a car.  Uber/Lyft/Taxi it there and back! Or, just walk.

Understand Your Intake & Keep it under Control

Along those lines, maybe we need anotherreminder about Blood Alcohol Content.  If you’re below a 0.05 BAC, you probably won’t be charged with DUI, but anything between 0.05 to 0.08 BAC is the equivalent of a Driving While Ability Impaired offense, which carries similar penalties as an all-out DUI.  As you can guess, above a 0.08 BAC is a DUI. 

For those of you under 21, though, if you have a 0.02 BAC or above, you are fair game for what’s known as a “baby-DUI.”  Disastrousconsequences can await if you are convicted of even this lesser charge at a young age.

Understand the Risks

But is BUI really as risky as driving a car and getting a DUI?  No, most likely not.  The statistics on crashes involving intoxicated bicyclists are a little sparse, though.  And, yes, I’m pulling from a Westword articlefrom about five years ago for this quote: 

In researching this issue, van Heuven found that in Colorado in 2010, 98 people were killed as a result of drunk drivers, representing 22 percent of all traffic fatalities, according to a recent press release. In contrast, she says, there's likely not very good local data on the consequences of drunk cycling.
 National data, however, shows that alcohol does play a significant role in fatal cycling crashes across the country. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 24 percent of the cyclists killed in 2010 had a blood alcohol concentration of .01 grams per deciliter or higher, and over one-fifth had a BAC of .08 g/dL or higher. And alcohol-involvement – either for the driver of a motorized vehicle or a cyclist – was reported in more than 34 percent of the traffic crashes that resulted in a cyclist fatality.

So maybe severe injury isn’t as probable from drunk biking, but it’s certainly possible – and that’s why you need to be careful.

Even events and organizations that thrive on drinking and biking will acknowledge the importance of staying in control. Denver Cruisers, which makes a monthly Wednesday night ride a priority, emphasizes the need for sobriety. Rule Number 6 of their code, or commandments, state:

THOU SHALT NOT OVER-EMBIBE. If you CHOOSE to drink, for the love of god, just do it responsibly. Yes, there are rules, laws and limits. But the basic reality is we don’t want to, nor are we going to be, your mommy. No, really. And, as explained in Commandment 5 above, obeying the already rules in place in the City of Denver is a key component – and as much as you’d like to believe that you are above the laws of our brethren, open-container laws exist and you are not exempt just because you’re atop a sweet cruiser bicycle. You know your limits – just be “smart” and we won’t have any problems. Again, we don’t wanna see you be smitten. 

Understand What Happens When

The one upshot to all of this, though, is that if you are ever arrested for BUI and convicted, at least you’ll maintain the ability to drive a motor vehicle in the state of Colorado.  Your driving privileges will not be revoked by the DMV as they would be if you were operating a motor vehicle at the time, and no points should be assessed.  But if points are assessed against your license, you should contact a Colorado criminal defense attorney with experience in DMV hearings immediately!
My Denver and Front Range criminal defense practice has been successfully defending DUI, DWAI, BUI, and all kinds of other intoxication-related offenses for years now.  And my former experience prosecuting these cases as a District Attorney gives me and my clients an advantage in court.  Visit the Nicol Law Offices, LLC website for more information on me and to schedule your free initial consultation.  I’m happy to come to you – but don’t judge me if I don’t bike there!