By now, most people know the consequences and dangers of operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. Successful campaigns depicting the often-fatal consequences of such have reached and affected a great number of people across the globe.
Somewhat less known, however, is the frequency and severity of the hazards associated with biking under the influence of alcohol. In fact, a report published in 2017 by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety showed that biking while under the influence may be just as dangerous as operating a vehicle under the same circumstances.
In this blog, we discuss both the legal and physical consequences you may face if you choose to ride a bicycle while under the influence of alcohol.
Penalties for Riding a Bicycle While Inebriated
Though this may come as a surprise to some, the law under Indiana Code 9-30-5-1 states that operating a vehicle while intoxicated is illegal, but nowhere does it make the distinction that this only pertains to motor vehicles. Police officers are legally allowed to stop bicyclists and have them take a breathalyzer test, or bring them in for a blood test if they believe they are inebriated.
The law requires police to have probable cause to stop anyone on the road, so if you get pulled over on a bicycle and have a blood alcohol concentration of at least 0.08, you will be charged with a Class C misdemeanor. Similarly, if you have a blood alcohol concentration of at least 0.15, you will be charged with a Class A misdemeanor.
If you have a prior conviction of an OVWI within the past five years, it’s a level 6 felony. It is also a level 6 felony if you injure another person while riding a bicycle under the influence. However, if you injure another person while riding a bicycle inebriated and have a prior conviction of an OVWI within the past five years, it will be bumped up to a level 5 felony.
The penalties for the charges listed above are as follows:
- Class C misdemeanor – Up to 60 days in jail, and fines reaching $500
- Class A misdemeanor – Up to one year in jail, and a fine of up to $5,000
- Level 6 felony – Six to 30 months in prison, and fines reaching $10,000
- Level 5 felony – One to six years in prison, and a fine of up to $10,000
Statistics to Be Aware Of
While bicycling under the influence may seem far less dangerous than driving while under the influence, consider the following statistics:
- A single drink of alcohol can impair muscle coordination, vision, and judgment in bicyclists.
- Bicyclists are 6 times more likely to be injured in an accident after consuming just one drink.
- Having a blood alcohol concentration at or above the legal limit increases a bicyclist’s risk of injury by 2,000 percent.
- In 2011, traffic accidents resulted in an average of one pedestrian death every two hours, with alcohol impairment being a factor in 50 percent of the fatal accidents.
- In 2014, one-third of pedestrians and one-fifth of bicyclists killed in accidents were legally drunk.
- Almost 25 percent of fatal bicycling accidents involved an intoxicated cyclist.
Safety Tips to Remember
While operating a vehicle may pose more of a risk to others on the road, and potential additional risks to passengers in vehicles, it’s still important to follow safety precautions to keep yourself safe while riding a bicycle.
- Always wear light-colored or reflective clothing to ensure passing motorists see you.
- Always ride facing oncoming traffic.
- Only cross the street at crosswalks.
- Always call an Uber or similar service for transportation if you’ve been drinking.
Contact an Indiana Bicycle Accident Lawyer Today
If you were involved in a bicycle accident, Crossen Law Firm is here for you. Our Indianapolis bicycle accident lawyers are ready to answer all of your questions and help guide you through the steps of your case. You deserve fair bicycle accident compensation so you can focus on recovering from your injuries.