Can I Get Arrested for DUI While Riding My Bicycle in San Diego?

Some people may think that cycling under the influence is okay since they aren’t driving a car. However, the state of California doesn’t see it that way. 

In fact, cycling under the influence of drugs or alcohol is against the law in California. Under California Vehicle Code 21200.5, individuals riding a bike while intoxicated may receive citations for being intoxicated in public or being under the influence while operating a vehicle.

Drinking or taking drugs can affect your behavior and your ability to ride a bike; it may also lead you to take extra risks or even cause an accident. If you’re stopped for cycling under the influence, you’ll likely need the help of a criminal defense attorney. 

To understand the legal implications of biking while intoxicated, it’s important to understand how it is defined under California law.

California CUI Laws

Cycling Under the Influence (CUI) is similar to DUI in California. Under California law, it’s illegal to ride a bike on a road, street, or highway while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. 

The law further defines being under the influence as having impaired physical and mental abilities that make it difficult to operate a bike in the same manner that a sober person, using caution, would be able to.

If you are stopped while cycling under the influence, the officer may cite you for public intoxication in addition to issuing a CUI citation. Laws prohibiting public intoxication make it a crime to be under the influence in public or to disturb the peace by being belligerent, fighting, using offensive language, or playing loud music.

Penalties for CUI in California

CUI is a misdemeanor charge, which means you likely won’t serve jail time, but you may be subject to a fine of $250. However, you could face enhanced penalties depending on the circumstances and your own criminal history. If you caused an accident and injured someone, or there were aggravating factors in your CUI, you could face harsher consequences. 

You could also be held liable civilly for actions taken during a CUI offense. If you had a bicycle accident that resulted in injuries to another person, for example, or caused property damage, the injured party might file a lawsuit seeking financial compensation.

How Can a Criminal Defense Lawyer Help Me?

There are a number of defenses that can be raised to fight a CUI charge. If you failed a field sobriety test but weren’t administered a breath test, for example, your defense attorney may be able to have your charges dismissed.

Unlike DUI charges, in which the legal limit for intoxication is a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or more, California CUI laws don’t have a statutory threshold for determining whether you’re legally under the influence. Instead, the arresting officer must document other evidence of impairment.

The prosecutor must ultimately prove that you were:

  • Actually riding the bike
  • Riding the bike on a public highway
  • You were under the influence of alcohol or drugs

Your lawyer may be able to argue that you weren’t in violation of the law. For example, you may have been walking your bike instead of operating it. Or perhaps the arresting officer smelled alcohol on your breath when you were not actually impaired, resulting in an unfounded citation for CUI. 

Your lawyer will examine the circumstances of your case, including finding witnesses to testify on your behalf, and may try to have your charge reduced or even dismissed.

If you’re convicted of a CUI, that charge becomes part of your permanent record, which can affect your chances for employment, especially in fields where you’ll be driving or operating heavy machinery. If you have been arrested for CUI in California, it’s important to seek legal counsel.

Contact Our Bicycle Accident Law Firm in San Diego Today To Get More Information

If you’ve been injured in San Diego, please call Mission Personal Injury Lawyers for a free case evaluation with a personal injury attorney or contact us online.


Mission Personal Injury Lawyers
2515 Camino del Rio S Suite 350, San Diego, CA 92108
(619) 777-5555