BUI — Bicycling Under the Influence

PLEASE HELP ME UNDERSTANDemail me or leave a comment as to your interest in the subject… I am not a lawyer, I am not soliciting business, just wondering why all the interest in this subject???

It goes without saying that mixing bicycling and drinking is extremely dangerous — there I said it after all — but what about the law? Bicyclists in Arizona are subject to DUI law,(but see Alternative theories, below…) the only wrinkles are that “implied consent” does not apply to bicyclists, and bicyclist’s licenses are not subject to administrative suspension (suspension before being convicted). A bicyclist convicted of DUI is subject to all the same penalties; mandatory jail time, must install ignition interlocks on all his motor vehicles, large fines, license suspension. —

§28-812: Bicyclists are “…subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle

§28-1381 DUI: a person must not “drivea vehicle” under the influence, so includes bicyclists.

§28-1385 : Administrative (before conviction) license suspension: violation must have been committed in a motor vehicle. So, this can not result in a bicyclist’s motor vehicle license being suspended. There are still long post conviction suspensions, however.

§28-1321 Implied consent: “A person who operates a motor vehicle in this state gives consent”, so does not apply to bicyclists.

Alternative Theories

1) Since bicycles are, by definition, not vehicles (ARS §28-101.56), DUI won’t apply because it only makes driving a vehicle while drunk illegal. This is fundamentally a rejection of the statutory construction argument as outlined above. Arizona’s applicability statute (reproduced fully, below) specifically includes Chapter 4 ( which is titled “Driving under the influence” and deals only with DUI) in bicyclist’s duties. (historical note, chapter 4 was not included as of 1986; see comment below)


2) By its nature, DUI doesn’t apply to bicyclists — the escape hatch in §28-812. Both PA and OR, like AZ, has this escape hatch, but it doesn’t seem to prevent vehicle DUI charges from being upheld there.

I find both these arguments unpersuasive. In the absence of Arizona case law (which is apparently the situation) I consider either of these theories a “long shot” — that is to say a dismissal in city or justice court is certainly a possibility; or a conviction is likely to withstand review. The applicability statute, here in its entirety:

§28-812. Applicability of traffic laws to bicycle riders

A person riding a bicycle on a roadway or on a shoulder adjoining a roadway is granted all of the rights and is subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this chapter and chapters 4 and 5 of this title, except special rules in this article and except provisions of this chapter and chapters 4 and 5 of this title that by their nature can have no application.

And I would point out that Chapter 4of Title 28  is entitled “Driving Under the Influence”, thus I conclude that there is clear legislative intent that Arizona’s bicyclists be bound by DUI laws.

3) This isn’t a theory per se but the AZ POST (that’s the state agency that trains all Arizona police officers) says flatly that “DUI laws do not apply to bicycles.” in their training outline for Title 28.

Roundup of Other State’s ‘BUI’ Situation


Illinois case: People v. Schaefer , 274 Ill. App. 3d 450, 654 N.E.2d 267, 1995 Ill. App. LEXIS 623, 210 Ill. Dec. 968 (Ill. App. Ct. 2d Dist. 1995).

The Illinois case is likely to be considered a smoking gun among drunk-cycling-is-not-illegal-in-Arizona proponents because the relevant laws between AZ and IL are virtually identical with one exception. AZ has the specific reference to “Chapter 4” (DUI) in AZ’s applicability statute. IL simply makes “The Code” applicable to cyclists.

In short, the IL case found that there was ambiguity when construing the combination of the bicycling applicability and DUI statutes. Therefore because of due process considerations, the ambiguity must be construed narrowly and in favor of the defendant. “We determine that the language of the relevant statutes is not sufficiently definite to give the person of ordinary intelligence a reasonable opportunity to know what conduct is prohibited. In other words,
there is no clear and express legislative intent to apply [the DUI statute] to bicyclists.”

In his May 15, 2003 column Mionske addressed the “are bicyclists subject to DUI?” by comparing Florida and Illinois laws and case law. Here is the Illinois Vehicle Code: 625 ILCS 5.


So, I haven’t added anything to this article for awhile, but this is really fascinating… I stumbled on a mention on Reason.com (Reason is a libertarian-minded think tank) about a BUI case against Jeffrey E. Brown of Columbus, OH. The very brief article substantially misrepresents the case, claiming the guy that got convicted was walking his bike, which may have been a legitimate gripe. The notion that he was in fact walking, and not riding, seems to have come up nowhere in the Ohio Court of Appeals ruling, so I wonder what the story is. But that’s not what’s interesting, the interesting part is the the appeals opinion which dispatches the appellant’s constitutional arguments which were based on statistical evidence (that wasn’t offered at trial) that bicyclists rarely, if ever, cause harm to anyone but themselves, and therefore would be due process grounds to strike the law as unconstitutional. The opinion allows that even if that were the case (they don’t really dispute that, only to say they won’t consider that evidence since it wasn’t offered at trial) the law would still plainly be constitutional. In upholding Brown’s conviction the court said in conclusion “we find (the DUI laws) are rationally related to a legitimate governmental purpose, in that it bears a real and substantial relation to public safety and is not unreasonable or arbitrary”. The whole thing is a pretty good read. Unfortunately I can’t find Brown’s documentation, other than a fairly elaborate youtube video where he unfortunately devolves into an ideological anti-anti-DUI rant, and mentions a group drinkinganddriving.org that I can’t quite figure out (astroturf? “mad about mothers” a la Modern Drunkard Magazine? dunno). Anyway, the appeal is a very interesting read:

Columbus v. Brown, 2005 Ohio 6102 – Ohio: Court of Appeals, 10th Appellate Dist. 2005 via Google Scholar.

That all being said, Ohio explicitly changed their DUI laws not long before Brown , they used to specifically apply to motor vehicle operators, and now apply to any vehicle. Bicycles in OH are included in the  definition of vehicles; ORC Section 4511.01(A).

I will also mention here another due process / unconstitutionally vague challenge, coincidentally involving the City of Columbus, involving a pedestrian crosswalk law which requires peds to use the right half of a crosswalk City of Columbus v. Truax, 7 Ohio App. 3d 49 – Ohio: Court of Appeals 1983 via Google Scholar.


In PA (bikelaw summary), there is case law concerning bicycles and DUI, and the definition of vehicle. See Commonwealth v. Brown, 423 Pa. Super. 264, 620 A.2d 1213 (1993). The situation in PA is that statutorily bicycles aren’t mentioned in the definition of a vehicle: “[e]very device in, upon or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway, except devices used exclusively upon rails or tracks”. This case held that bicycles are vehicles, and thus the defendant could be charged with DUI. Bicyclists in PA have the usual “rights and duties” as vehicle drivers, as well as the “except… by their nature can have no application” escape-clause in their applicability statute a la ARS 28-812.

Also with relevance to PA there is an article: PENNSYLVANIA’S “NEW IMPROVED” IMPLIED CONSENT LAW–NOT JUST FOR DUI OFFENDERS ANYMORE (77 PA Bar Assn. Quarterly 121) that discusses DUI law changes that removed the word “motor” from PA’s implied consent law thus exposing a panopoly of road users to implied consent: “…it is conceivable that a person who operates a skateboard or non-motorized scooter on a highway while in an impaired or intoxicated condition could fall within the meaning of ‘vehicle’.”


In his book Bicycling and the Law, Bob Mionske has a fairly lengthy topic on BUI, but his book has to cover the entire US(!). He writes:

There are four basic approaches to BUI

  1. DUI law applies to cyclists.
  2. DUI law (but not the penalties) applies to cyclists.
  3. BUI is treated as a separate offense.
  4. DUI law does not apply to cyclists.

In elaborating on 1) , he uses Oregon (bikelaw summary) as an example. Mionske writes “…cyclists are subject to the provisions of Oregon’s DUI statue, and cyclists can and will be prosecuted for DUI in Oregon”.

In Oregon bicyclists have the rights and duties of a driver of any other vehicle, similar to ARS 28-812. Oregon, like Arizona, does have the “except…by their very nature can have no application” escape-clause in their applicability statute. However unlike Arizona, in Oregon bikes are explicitly considered vehicles: “A bicycle is a vehicle for purposes of the vehicle code”.

Random net searches, Kansas, others? cases?

An April 2003 blog entry from mobikefed.org led me to this Kansas Supreme Court case… The case is more on the point of whether or not a city can have a DUI law. In the case a cyclist was charged under a City of Wichita ordinance. His conviction was affirmed. What would have been more interesting would be exactly why the state’s DUI law doesn’t apply to cyclists — this wasn’t discussed at all, it was taken as a foregone conclusion by both sides in the case.Here is a recent (Oct 6, 2007) legallad.quickanddirtytips.com/legal-bicycle-DUI.aspx (I removed the link because their site became infected at some point) from the “Legal lad”. He refers, nonspecifically, to a whole bunch of states where there is case law. I need to find his reference to Hawaii.

Hawaii: Their dui statute is pretty standard, applies to operating a vehicle §291-3.1 , like Arizona. Vehicle definition is virtually same as in AZ, that is it excludes human powered device (§286-2). So if there is case law out of Hawaii it may be persuasive in Arizona.

New Hampshire: March(?) 2007. New Hampshire Bicyclist’s DWI Case Ends in Agreement. “At issue in (Timothy) Bradley’s case were a pair of apparently conflicting statutes in the state’s motor vehicle code one saying the ‘rules of the road’ that apply to motor vehicles also apply to bicycles, another defining the word ‘drive’ as operating a motor vehicle. Legal experts have said the case is a perfect example of what state Supreme Court justices are paid to sort out. At the same time, a local legislator, angered over the arrest, has already proposed a bill that would specifically remove bicycles from the state’s DWI laws”. In any event, because of the plea deal, there was never any resolution as to whether or not as a matter of law bicyclists in NH are subject to DWI laws there.

South Dakota took the unusual step recently (July of this year, or was it 2006) in HB1190 to rewrite the definition of vehicle to exclude bicycles and horses. According to this article, this will have the effect of exempting bicyclists (and equestrians, presumably) from DUI. [but what is SD’s bike applicability statue say?]

California case: Clingenpeel v. Antelope108 Cal. App. 3d 394. Affirmed that DUI did not apply to bicyclists. Review by supreme court was denied. “…To summarize: in order validly to subject cyclists to criminal punishment, section 21200 (CA’s bicyclist applicability statute, like 28-812) must explicitly inform cyclists that their driving of a bicycle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor will render them liable to such punishment, and it must do so in terms sufficiently clear that men of common intelligence would not differ as to its application. Judged by this test, section 21200 of the Vehicle Code fails to meet due process standards”.

Subsequently, in 1982, CA’s applicability statue was amended to specifically proscribe BUI.

Note that Arizona’s equivalent statute, 28-812, does explicitly inform cyclists that Chapter 4 (DUI) does apply.

NJ case: DUI specifically applies to motor vehicles. So the superior court threw out the cyclist’s conviction in State v. Johnson203 N.J. Super. 436. Curiously, another county’s Superior Court previously (State v. Tehan) held that cyclists were somehow motor vehicles and subject to NJ’s DUI law.

Courts have (consistently?) held that the term “motor vehicle” as opposed to just “vehicle” when used in statutes is intentional. The term “motor vehicle” explicitly excludes bicyclists, or conversely the term “vehicle” applies to both motorized and non-motorized vehicles. E.g.from a Pennsylvania commonwealth court case which upheld the revocation of a drunk cyclist’s license: “The fact that the definition of ‘operating privilege’ uses the term ‘vehicle’ rather than ‘motor vehicle,’ clearly denotes that these terms are not limited to matters involving motor vehicles but all vehicles.”


DUI Attorneys from Attorneys.com


Letter to the State Press Editor, (submitted via web 10/30/2007)

There is a persistent urban legend that bicyclists cannot be charged with DUI. A recent State Press Oct. 10, 2007 editorial, News flash: Alcohol and driving still don’t mix carries on the legend:

…there is no DUI law in Tempe for non-motorized vehicles. This means that biking, skateboarding and even rollerblading while drunk are all ways to avoid the needle and the jail time that now comes with driving drunk.

The reference to Tempe city law is a red herring. I don’t know about skateboarding or rollerblading, but Arizona state law makes bicycling on the road while under the influence equally illegal as driving a motor vehicle under the influence. This is because under Arizona law, cyclists have all the “duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle” (ARS §28-812).

Ed Beighe


31 thoughts on “BUI — Bicycling Under the Influence”

  1. My son, 23, was just stopped on his bicycle in Portland, Oregon. His license suspended, has to go to court and may lose that license. I am in disbelieve that this can actually happen. A bike is not DRIVING, you are riding. It is not a motor vehicle, do not need a license, so how can you lose it. What next, skateboards, roller skates, maybe walking too fast. Ridiculous.

  2. This has always been unclear to me and has seemingly been intentionally kept that way by interpreters of the law. People are not licensed to use the roadway; they are licensed to operate a motor vehicle. What kind of charges would be made if the above-mentioned son actually did not have a driver’s license? I’ve heard of DUI being made to those sitting in a parked car, motor off and keys out. A city or county prosecutor stated at a meeting recently that there is no BUI in Tucson….taking the meaning to be that they would not prosecute it.

    azbikelaw adds: Interesting you mention the sitting in a parked car thing — there is a very recent AZ Supreme Court ruling that supposedly clarifies the whole “being in actual physical control” phrase which has been causing confusion (this is as far as i can see, unrelated to bicycles).

  3. I spoke with the Tucson prosecutor’s office about this issue last week after I got tired of pseudo lawyers telling me crazy stories about how you can get a DUI in Tucson while on a bike. According to the prosecutor, ‘Dale’…

    They have never charged anyone in Tucson with DUI that was on an bicycle. They also said that your driver’s license is a license to operate motorized vehicles and has nothing to do with operating a bike. So while yes you have to obey street laws, the penalty is a ticket and not points added to your drivers license.

    Call the prosecutor and get the facts for yourself from the people that know! Just cause ya’ll heard it on that there Internet don’t mean it’s true 🙂

  4. Hi Dmitry — Thanks for the legwork. First off; you make a good point about “pseudo lawyers”, and I don’t know if it is a jab at me or not but let me say you are absolutely correct, and that I am not a lawyer and standard disclaimers apply to everything I say.

    The problem is nothing is ever as clear as you suggest. Take what would seem to be an easy one, the license points issue, you say:

    “They also said that your driver’s license is a license to operate motorized vehicles and has nothing to do with operating a bike… the penalty is a ticket and not points added to your drivers license”

    Hmmm. well, this is in direct contradiction to what an MVD spokesperson said ON THE RECORD. See here. And MVD is the organization that keeps track of all points in Arizona. It may well be true that the city court in Tucson doesn’t transmit bicyclist’s points data to MVD, but that’s not really saying the same thing, is it?

    The problem is that each court and jurisdiction has enormous leeway… getting a straight answer out of any one of them is difficult, magnify this by 100 or so for the State of Arizona (cities, towns, counties; who all have independent law enforcement). So I am told first hand (by the Court) that Scottsdale will ticket & convict for “BUI”, and Tempe (like what you found in the city of Tucson) will not. It’s more a matter of policy.
    So, I ride (not drunk, thankyou very much!) regularly in the Cities of Phoenix, Tempe, Chandler, and the County of Maricopa; less regularly in Scottsdale, Gilbert.

    Another example: I can’t get a straight answer out of the city of Tempe on how they handle motorized bicycles — two city officials say two different things.

  5. nope, not a jab at you. was more thinking of the people that have chimed in on a list that I posted the idea of a bike pub crawl on.

  6. What if you are BUI on the sidewalk, and your city does not outlaw this – can you not get around the law? You’re not “on a roadway or on a shoulder adjoining a roadway”.

    Or – if you city does outlaw biking on the sidewalk, wouldn’t it be much better to be cited for this than a DUI?

  7. greetings. I was arrested in Key West FL for BUI, boating under the influence, while riding my bike on a city street. later changed to DUI. am going to trial soon. FL has 2 totally different definitions for a vehicle, one which explicitly excludes a bicycle. but ponder this. suppose a person was TOTALLY WASTED and knowing this, decides to walk the bike home on sidewalks. at some point the wastee has to cross a road, and does so still pushing the bike. at that point he/she is in actual physical control of a vehicle on a road and may be charged w/ DUI. how stupid would that be?

  8. pertaining to CA, from the “honk” column of the OC Register

    …When a bicyclist is cited for an infraction, the offense can end up on a driver’s license, said Jan Mendoza, a DMV spokeswoman.

    “However, these citations are typically removed after it’s determined the infraction did not involve a motor vehicle,” she said. “No points are assigned for these violations. …

    “If a person is cited for bicycling DUI, the arrest or citation goes on a person’s driving record for three years but it is placed there without any sanctions or points against the person’s driver’s license.”

    Now, David, if the cited bicyclist didn’t have a driver’s license, like you talked about, an “X number” would be created; the record would be retained. The information would flow onto any new driver’s license.

    By the way …

    Tully Lehman – a spokesman for the Insurance Information Network of California said that your auto rates might go up with a drunk-while-bicycling citation.

  9. When looking at the full text of the applicable statute you put in, It occured to me that if you ride on the sidewalk you are not using either the roadway or the associated shoulder and therefore motor vehicle laws do not apply

  10. Florida gets around this sticky wicket by defining a bicycle as a vehicle and the operator of a bicycle as a driver. Here in Florida bicycle drivers have all the rights to the road as the operators of other vehicles. The Florida Bicycle Association is very active in advocating for bicycle safety and rights with the state legislature and Florida Department Of Transportation (FDOT). Defining a bicycle as a vehicle and the operator as a driver solves many legal issues. http://www.floridabicycle.org/rules/bikelaw.html

    If Arizona would follow suite, it would remove this legal difficulty.

  11. One more thing. Approximately 99% of Floridians ride bicycles. It’s one of my main modes of transportation. Also I noticed that Arizona’s Driver’s Manual does not discuss a motor vehicle operators responsibility in regards to a bicycle. The 2011 Florida Driver Handbook states:

    “5.17 – Bicyclists
    In Florida, the bicycle is legally defined as a vehicle. Bicyclists using a public roadway are considered operators of motor vehicles and are responsible for observing traffic laws. Bicyclists may generally operate legally on sidewalks (except by local ordinance). They may operate in either direction, though riding against the flow of traffic on the adjacent roadway places them where motorists are not expecting traffic. Generally, sidewalk bicycling is not recommended, due to the usual increase in conflicts with bicycles and motor vehicles at driveways and intersections.

    5.17.1 – Bike Lanes at Intersections
    Slow down, look for and yield to any bicyclists in the bike lane. Signal your turn prior to crossing through the bike lane at the dashed striping. Yield to any bicyclist. Complete the turn from the designated right turn lane. If there is no right turn lane, after first checking to make sure that no bicyclists are present, you may merge into the bike lane at approaches to the intersection or driveway.

    5.17.2 – Sharing the Road with a Bicycle
    • Allow a minimum of three feet of clearance when passing a cyclist and reduce your speed. On a two lane road, time your pass to not be next to the bicyclist at the same time as oncoming traffic is at the same location.
    • At night, avoid using high beam headlights when a cyclist is approaching. The cyclist could be temporarily blinded.
    • Do not follow a cyclist closely. If you are too close and the cyclist must slow suddenly in an emergency, you could run them over. Bicyclists are entitled to move away from the right side of a lane when that lane is too narrow to safely share with a motor vehicle. Most travel lanes in Florida range from 10’ to 12’ wide and guidance indicates that a 14’ lane is a width that allows safe sharing with most
    motor vehicles. Wet roads impair a bicyclist’s ability to brake and maneuver. Potholes or railroad tracks often require bicyclists to change positions within their lane. When railroad tracks are skewed, the bicyclist must change directions in order to cross over the tracks at a ninety- degree angle or risk a fall.”

    As I mentioned Arizona’s manual is silent in this area.

    Tabby — thanks for you comment. I do like what you have in the FL manual, it is direct and strong. But i must contradict you, the Arizona Manual is not entirely silent, e.g.

    Section 4: Sharing the Road with Other Vehicles Sharing the Road with a Bike
    Bicyclists must obey the same traffic laws as drivers of vehicles, and they have the
    right-of-way under the same conditions as motorists…

  12. I was glad to see this website and it provides very good information.

    Personally, I would like to see Bicycling While Impaired legalized.

    Additionally, my opinion is that driving Low-Speed Electric Vehicles while impaired would be a great transportation alternative for an impaired individual, if made legal.

    The focus on traffic safety has primarily been targetted at operating while impaired (drunk driving). That only accounts for 1/3rd of traffic fatalities. How about the other 2/3rds of the traffic fatalities?

    Seems to me that the size of the vehicles, and the speed at which we drive them, are the real threats to traffic safety.

    Thus, Low-Speed Electric Vehicles are a great alternative. They increase all traffic safety, provide a legal transporation alternative for an impaired invididual, reduce dependence on oil, and provides a jumpstart for a new market.

    Separately, based on my research:

    1) Bicycling While Impaired is subject to the same penalties as Driving While Impaired.

    2) A Motorized Bicycle may still be classified as a Bicycle providing it is not gas-powered, does not exceed 25 mph, and is pedal-assisted.

    Thank you,


  13. I have spoken with several officers here in az confirming a DUI on a bicycle is not possible. Even college times quotes tempe police statng its not illegal.

  14. The enabling statute 28-812 specifically includes chapter 4: “DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE”, which gives me every reason to believe that the DUI laws are intended to be applicable to bicyclists. Whether the police arrest or cities prosecute cyclists as a matter of policy or priority of other things is a separate issue.

  15. No, no, no. Just no.

    In order to be found guilty of a DUI beyond a reasonable doubt, the State must prove all elements of the offense. Arizona defines a regular DUI as “a person to driv[ing] or be[ing] in actual physical control of a vehicle in . . .while under the influence of intoxicating liquor . . . if the person is impaired to the slightest degree.” A.R.S. § 28-1381(A)(1). A DUI on a bike is not possible in Arizona because the “drive” and “vehicle” elements are not met. A person can’t “drive” a bike because a bike is not a “self-propelled vehicle.” See § 28-101(17), (33). In fact, a bike is excluded from the definition of “vehicle” because it is a “device moved by human power.” See § 28-101(6), (57). Therefore, it is legally impossible to be convicted of DUI on a bike in Arizona.

    If a cop cited a person for a DUI, when s/he rode a bike, no literate prosecutor would pursue that case. There would be no reasonable likelihood of conviction, and it’s a stupid waste of time. Even if a prosecutor did go forward on such a bogus charge, any competent defense attorney would get that thrown out. Judges know DUI law backwards and forwards, and no jury would convict someone for DUI while on a bike.

    I don’t know what the civil violations are that would apply to bikes, but the point is that it is not a CRIMINAL offense to bike under the influence. You’re not going to go the jail or incur any other criminal sanctions for it.

    28-101(17): “Drive” means to operate or be in actual physical control of a motor vehicle.

    28-101(33): “Motor vehicle”: (a) Means either: (i) A self-propelled vehicle.

    28-101(57): “Vehicle” means a device in, on or by which a person or property is or may be transported or drawn on a public highway, excluding devices moved by human power or used exclusively on stationary rails or tracks.

    28-101(6): “Bicycle” means a device, including a racing wheelchair, that is propelled by human power and on which a person may ride and that has either: (a) Two tandem wheels, either of which is more than sixteen inches in diameter. (b) Three wheels in contact with the ground, any of which is more than sixteen inches in diameter.

    This other lawyer agrees with me: http://www.palumbowolfe.com/Phoenix-Personal-Injury-Blog/2012/April/You-Cant-Get-a-DUI-on-a-Bicycle.aspx

    (By the way, I’m not giving any legal advice; I am only restating what the law is based on primary sources that are available to the public at large by the Legislarure. Nobody has become a client of mine for having read my comment. Always seek individualized counsel for questions on specific legal questions.)

  16. hi kristin,
    thanks for you comment;
    I’m afraid you got derailed by misunderstanding how vehicle laws apply to bicyclists. It is true, as you say, that (in Arizona) bicycles are not vehicles…
    but you have to dig a little deeper.
    The enabling applicability statute, 28-812, does two important things 1) it makes riding a bicycle the legal equivalent of driving a vehicle, and 2) it specifically makes chapter 4, (which is entitled “Driving under the influence”) applicable to bicyclists.

    does that help?

  17. Just noticed: AZ Driver Lic Manual p49:

    “Do not bicycle under the influence of drugs or alcohol – it is illegal”

  18. That statement, “Do not bicycle under the influence of drugs or alcohol – it is illegal,” has been in AZ Driver License Manual for several years now – see my posting above (April 3, 2008)

  19. OK. some of you are right in both senses. Az statute 28-812 does give the rights and responsibilities to a bicyclist same as a driver. However, 28-1381 and 28-1382 refer to “motor” vehicles [ed note: this is incorrect, the statues refer to ‘vehicle’, NOT ‘motor vehicle’] and “driving”. You can’t drive a bike and it is not a motor vehicle. So they do not applly. Also, 28-812 states further in the code about applied exceptions and exemptions from the law. Bicycles, because they are clearly defined in the definition section of the 28 codes falls under these exceptions in 28-812. You can cleary see these two laws kind of contradict eachother.
    But, the biggest issue is the “admin per se” or what you might know as implied consent law. This states that when you “drive” a “motor” vehicle in Az. you imply consent that you will complete and successfully pass tests chosen by law enforcement if stopped to show you are not impaired. Since there is no license to ride a bike or no test needing to be passed and no implied consent when riding a bike…the state can’t require you prove you not drunk or cite you otherwise. You can be given civil violations that are not exempted under the 28-812 law but not dui. As the laws are written now it is impossible to prosecute for dui on a bike, not saying an officer not knowing better might try it , but it will never make it to court….I should know…14 year veteran of the Phoenix PD with over 200 dui’s under my belt…ride safe.

  20. Here’s a wrinkle i have never heard of before; a correspondent writes:

    I’m having a fascinating discussion with another attorney about DUI charges against bicycle riders. Since the early 1947 appeals decision, it has been the law that you can get a DUI while riding a bicycle. Even A.R.S. 28-812 invoked compliance with chapter 4 of the transportation code (which is the DUI section).

    However, my colleague pointed out that 812 uses the word “duty” which has a civil not criminal connotation. In Arizona, civil law revolves around legal duties that are owed to another. Criminal law is purely a creature of statute … and … every element of the statute must be proven in order to demonstrate that the statute was completely violated. Of course, a prosecutor cannot prove that a bicycle is a vehicle (under A.R.S. 28-101, it is not). The DUI statutes use the word Vehicle.

    So while I can see a police officer issuing a DUI to a bike rider based on 812, I can also see a dismissal in court for failure to prove that the rider was in a vehicle – which is a requirement of the DUI laws.

    My colleague said he was not aware of any DUI’s for bike riders in Arizona. I seem to recall that there have been a few. Are you aware of any riders getting a DUI? And if so, were any convicted of the crime?

  21. “Do not bicycle under the influence of
    drugs or alcohol — it is illegal.” Still in the Arizona Driver License Manual (Revised Jan., 2013), p. 47, under “Section 4: Sharing the Road with Other Vehicles . . . Important rules for bicyclists” (http://www.azdot.gov/mvd/custsvcguide.asp)

  22. This tidbit from ADOT’s Crash Form Manual (28-1381 is DUI):
    Block 21 Conditions Influencing…
    A. No Test Given – This attribute should only be checked if the suspect driver/pedestrian/pedalcyclist is suspected of violating ARS 28-1381 AND is unavailable for chemical analysis, i.e. runs away from scene and is not apprehended or the investigating officer cannot prove suspect is driver of motor vehicle. The circumstance should be explained in the narrative.

  23. Note that the “Chapter 4” (dealing with DUI) was NOT in 28-812 as of SB1218 in 1986 — i.e. it was added at some point later… hmmm.

    As of 1986 it read:
    28-812. Traffic laws apply to persons riding bicycles
    Every person riding a bicycle upon a roadway OR UPON A SHOULDER ADJOINING A ROADWAY IS granted all the rights and IS subject to all the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this chapter, except as to special regulations in this article, and except as to those provisions of this chapter which by their nature have no application.

  24. The specific inclusion of “chapter 4” and other changes to ARS 28-812 since 1986 were all made by 42nd legislature in SB 1076; ch. 81, sec. 4, which rewrote entire chapters of the transportation code.

  25. Horse riders and operators of animal drawn carts have exactly the same language as bicyclists

    §28-625 Persons riding animals or driving animal drawn vehicles
    A person riding an animal or driving an animal drawn vehicle on a roadway has all of the rights and is subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this chapter and chapters 4 and 5 of this title, except the provisions of this chapter and chapters 4 and 5 of this title that by their very nature can have no application.

  26. I got an email from Cantor Law Firm about their page that says: “In Arizona, the DUI statutes say you must be in control of a motorized vehicle.”
    I replied to the email (but haven’t heard back. And I also left a comment to the same effect on the youtube video link):
    That sounds convincing, but is not correct. You simply added the word motorized; that word is not in the statute; plz explain
    28-1381. Driving or actual physical control while under the influence; trial by jury; presumptions; admissible evidence; sentencing; classification
    A. It is unlawful for a person to drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle in this state under any of the following circumstances…
    Separately, the thing about motorized bicycles is a bit of a quagmire. It appears to me adding a motor to a bicycle does NOT make it a vehicle. As you probably know bicycles are specifically not vehicles, in arizona. I have all those definitions here:
    http://azbikelaw.org/motorized-bicycle-law-reforms-proposed/ (scroll down a bit)
    Which also, curiously, means that mopeds are not motor vehicles for the purposes of dui/chapter 4.

    2019 Update — be sure to see news item referring to an escooter-DUI case in city of Tempe in which Cantor raises doubts about the validity of a DUI charge there.

  27. The legality of biking UI is obviously not clear, but the safety is. I find the Ohio case statement about bicyclists rarely, if ever, causing harm to others to be untrue, if expanding harm to more than physical harm. If some drunk bicyclist makes a poor decision and a motor vehiclist hits that biker, the vehicle driver is in for time spent dealing with the situation, possible court/lawyer time, possible dealing with insurance, possible “mental anguish” – I’m sure that scene would replay in my head for years. These are all harm.

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