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Can I Get a DUI for Cycling Under the Influence in CA?


Rather than risk getting arrested for a DUI from drunk driving, many people choose to ride their bicycles. Unfortunately, it is still a crime in California to bike while impaired. 

What is Cycling Under the Influence (CUI)? 

Under Vehicle Code 21200.5, it is against the law to ride a bicycle on a public road or highway while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both substances. “Under the influence” is defined as a significant impairment of your mental or physical abilities to negatively affect how you drive. 

The Differences Between CUI & DUI 

Cycling under the influence (CUI) is treated much differently compared to a standard DUI offense. Although biking while intoxicated is a misdemeanor, the punishment consists only of a maximum fine of $250 – with no jail time and no license suspension. 

Additionally, there is no specific legal limit for CUI. Regarding motor vehicles, you can get arrested for a DUI with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of at least .08 percent. When it comes to bicycle cases, intoxication is determined based on several observations, such as the odor of alcohol coming from the cyclist, a flushed face, or impaired motor skills.  

Therefore, the police will not conduct a preliminary breath test during a traffic stop and then request a post-arrest chemical test. On the other hand, a cyclist may request to have a chemical test to prove he/she isn’t intoxicated. 

Other Related Charges 

Instead of being charged with CUI, the police may arrest you for “public intoxication” for being impaired in a public place (e.g., street or sidewalk, entertainment venues, retail stores, and other businesses). Public intoxication is also a misdemeanor offense, but carries a maximum jail sentence of six months and/or a fine of up to $1,000. 

CUI is Still a Serious Matter 

While a CUI only carries a fine, it is still considered a misdemeanor offense that involves alcohol. Thus, a misdemeanor conviction will appear on your criminal record, which means you will have to report the offense on most job and college applications. 

However, you will be eligible to have the CUI conviction expunged, so long as you pay the fine. An expungement will remove many hardships associated with the conviction. 

If you have been arrested for CUI or DUI in Santa Barbara, call Appel & Morse at (805) 467-6060 or fill out our online contact form today to request a free case evaluation. Our legal team of former prosecutors has more than four decades of combined legal experience! 

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