Summer means getting outdoors to enjoy the nice weather. More people are out and about walking and riding their bikes. Family and friends are gathering for BBQs and get-togethers. With this comes the increased likelihood that you or your friends will enjoy an adult beverage. You have heard it time and time again; it is illegal to operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol of .08% or above. One of the questions we sometimes hear at summer gatherings is, “Can you get a DUI while riding a bike (or scooter)?”
Just don’t do it
To be honest, we think a better question is whether you should operate a scooter or bike while under the influence. The easy answer is an emphatic “No!” If you have followed our firm, you know that we represent many victims of drunk driving accidents. We are supporters of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). We have seen, firsthand, the toll that drinking and driving can take on families. For your own safety and the safety of others on the road, you shouldn’t operate any vehicle, even a scooter, when under the influence.
We all know that alcohol impairs judgment and slows reaction time. If you operate a bike or scooter while intoxicated, you are jeopardizing not only your own safety but also the safety of those around you. While the legality of operating a bike or scooter under the influence varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, we strongly urge you not to do it.
State and Local Laws
Whether you can get a DUI while riding a bike or scooter will depend on state and local laws. It is also important to note that this is an area of law that is quickly evolving in reaction to the new modes of electric transportation that continue to pop up on our streets and sidewalks each day.
There are some states that impose penalties for these activities that carry much of, if not the same penalties as those associated with a DUI while driving a motor vehicle. In some states, this offense is treated as a misdemeanor and carries penalties that include fines, jail time, driver’s license suspension, community service, and substance abuse evaluation.
The determining factor is how the state statute is written. Some states, for instance, define a DUI as operating a “motor vehicle” with a blood alcohol of .08%. Other state laws use the term “vehicle” which is defined as “any and all devices capable of being moved or transporting people.” This is an important distinction and will dictate whether the law would apply to a bike or scooter.
The Law in Kansas
Currently, in Kansas, the statute states that drinking and driving is prohibited for all vehicles. But, this does not include bicycles. Many local ordinances, however, do include bikes.
The Law in Missouri
In Missouri, the statute states that a driver is guilty of a DUI when they are operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. Therefore, a bike would not come under this law. Again, that is not to say that it could not be an offense under a local ordinance.
In Missouri, scooters and mopeds can qualify as a motor vehicle. If the scooter is motorized, has an automatic transmission, a cylinder capacity of less than 50 cubic centimeters (commonly referred to as “cc’s”) and has a maximum speed of 30 mph, a driver’s license is required to operate the vehicle and therefore could come under the DUI law. In fact, drivers of Bird or Lime electric scooters have received DUIs in Kansas City.
Tips to stay safe
Here are a few tips to keep in mind to ensure your safety and the safety of those around you:
- Don’t drink and operate a bike or scooter. Use the same sound judgment you would if you were driving a motor vehicle.
- Always wear a helmet. While not required in every jurisdiction, it is the single most important piece of safety gear you can have while riding a bike or scooter.
- Make sure your bike or scooter is in good operating order.
- Make sure you are visible to vehicles and pedestrians. Wear bright, reflective clothing and use headlights and taillights.
- When riding, keep your line and stay predictable to other drivers.
Even with the best of intentions, accidents can happen. If you or a loved one has been injured due to a mishap or the negligence of another party, contact our office for legal guidance at (913) 839-2808.
If you or a loved one receives a DUI while driving a bike or scooter, we encourage you to call another law firm as we focus our efforts on helping the victims of drunk driving.