Drinking and riding a bicycle

| 17/03/2016

Can you get arrested for riding a bicycle while drunk?

Auntie’s answer: That is a great question, if for no other reason than it gives me an opening to say something about bicycle riders in general. But, I will also answer your question, so bear with me.

I want to point out as well that I realise that there are many cyclists who obey the rules of the road and are very responsible when on their two-wheeled conveyances; those people may ignore the next part of this column.

But, for the rest of you: I do not understand why it is so difficult to follow simple, sensible rules that ensure the best they can you will arrive safely at your destination. The biggest issue that I see is when cyclists decide it is perfectly OK to go against traffic and ride on the right-hand side of the road. That is foolish even in broad daylight but becomes patently unsafe at night, especially for drivers who are pulling out into the road and looking right, not expecting a bicycle to come at them from the left. And while we are talking about the night, use a light and wear reflective clothing.

Don’t weave in and out of traffic or do anything else you might feel like because it is easy to do on a bike.

Wear a helmet.

Before you decide I am just being crotchety, you should know that there are legal ramifications for not abiding by the Traffic Law. And here is a link to the law so you can see for yourself.

Now, I took your question about riding a bike while under the influence to the Traffic Department of the RCIPS and spoke to a very helpful sergeant. The short answer is “Yes”. You can be arrested for riding a bike while drunk. In the eyes of the police, a bicycle is simply another vehicle, one that happens to be “propelled by human energy” and, as such, is governed by the same laws as for driving a car, so you are liable for all of the same offences.

If a police officer sees you riding erratically and finds you are over the 0.1 percent limit for blood alcohol content, you can be arrested. The sergeant points out that riding a bike while drunk can easily lead to a serious accident. Of course, the punishment for drivers of being disqualified doesn’t really apply, but you can certainly be fined.

The same holds true if you are found to be driving carelessly and, in case I wasn’t clear before, that includes driving in the opposite direction to traffic.

Therefore, if you know you are going out for a few drinks and think you are taking the “safe” option by leaving your car at home and getting on your bike, think again.

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Category: Ask Auntie

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I believe there is something called “precedent” in law, and perhaps you can ask that Polack lawyer who is always annoying government to look it up, but many years ago someone was taken before one Judge XXXXX for riding a bicycle with an alcohol blood level in excess of 250. Judge XXXXX ruling was something to the effect that he should be given an award for being able to ride a bicycle in that condition and dismissed the case.