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Can you get a DWI while riding a bicycle?

On Behalf of | Feb 13, 2024 | DWI |

Riding a bike offers a sense of freedom and mobility that a car cannot match. As you pedal through North Carolina, you might even feel that you are exempt from the traffic laws that apply to drivers. After all, bikes feel safer and cause less damage in a collision than a car. However, if police catch you biking while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you could still face criminal charges.

Understanding North Carolina’s DWI law

In North Carolina, you can get driving while impaired (DWI) charge by operating a motor vehicle on any highway or public place while intoxicated from alcohol or a controlled substance. Bicycles and electric bikes fall under the state’s definition of a vehicle. The law also specifies that cyclists must follow the same rules as car drivers.

If you are caught biking drunk or while using substances, you may be subject to the penalties of a regular DWI. This includes fines, court fees, community service and even jail time. Though it may seem like a minor offense, this incident can stay on your criminal record.

Dangers of biking while intoxicated

Riding a bike after consuming alcohol or drugs is risky for you and others on the road. Although North Carolina has dedicated bike lanes, your ability to focus and react remains essential. Intoxication can dull the senses, making it difficult to avoid unexpected obstacles such as pedestrians, animals or debris on time.

Additionally, you may not realize when your balance and coordination are off or if you are in swerving in the wrong lane. If your attention is compromised, you could crash into another cyclist or a pedestrian, resulting in injuries to both you and them.

Although bicycles do not pose the same level of danger as motor vehicles, biking while intoxicated can still have serious repercussions. Before hopping on your bike, consider your safety and that of others. Causing an accident could leave you financially responsible for the resulting damage.

The road is already full of hazards even when you are sober. Choosing to indulge in dangerous activities may only increase your risk of harm.