After a night of drinking, the best mode of transportation to arrive safely at home, without harming anyone or being guilty of a DUI, is usually a taxi or car driven by a designated (and therefore sober) driver. What about alternate transportation methods, however? Is it legal to ride a horse while intoxicated, or a lawnmower, or even a bicycle? The last item is the subject of much discussion in Arizona due to the concept of the “BUI,” or bicycling under the influence.
With the addition of the new bike share program in the Phoenix area in August 2014, bicycles can be rented by anyone over the age of 16 who wishes to have a slightly faster mode of transportation than walking. With the availability of bike share bikes expanding across the city, it is not hard to imagine a scenario—especially the one in which an intoxicated party-goer determines that renting a bike as a way home is a fantastic idea. Despite the urban myth to the contrary, this would not be considered “bicycling under the influence” under Arizona’s DUI laws.
What is confusing and may have led to the myth of a BUI is that Arizona’s laws governing the use of a bicycle on public streets includes language that imputes on the bicyclist all the responsibilities of motorists, without the liability for a DUI. This is because a bicycle is not considered a motor vehicle pursuant to Arizona law and so does not fall within the definition of “driving under the influence.” This is not to say that drunk bicycling is a good idea or that drunk cyclists are above the law. To the contrary, a cyclist may be liable for other traffic violations, such as speeding, failure to abide by stop signs, or impeding the flow of traffic.
While a drunk partygoer may be immune from receiving a DUI on a bicycle, other choices do not guarantee the same immunity. What many individuals do not know is that even sleeping inside of a car while intoxicated may land the “driver” in jail facing DUI charges. This is because Arizona law requires that a driver be controlling a vehicle. Even if an intoxicated driver has no intent to move his or her car, if the facts of a situation could potentially allow the drunk individual to operate the vehicle, he or she may be guilty of a DUI.
Operating any motorized vehicle, from a lawn mower to a horse-drawn carriage, under the influence of alcohol can carry with it serious consequences under a state’s DUI laws as these can cause serious injury and damage at the hands of a reckless driver. No one should face the uncertainty of the legal system alone, especially if a drunk driver is trying to skirt the law by the use of a technicality. If someone operating any type of motor vehicle hits you, contact the professionals at the Thompson Law Firm to discuss your options under Arizona law.