College students know that drinking and driving is bad, and for most students, avoiding DUI/DWI charges is easy if they do not bring cars to campus, but rather rely on the school's public transportation and walking paths.
Because so many college campuses spread out for miles and encompass several buildings and dorms that students use and visit daily, biking is a popular option for getting around, especially when you're carrying lots of books and traveling to and from friends' rooms and parties.
However, biking while intoxicated can still get you stopped for suspicion of drunk driving. If it is late at night and you are weaving back and forth, steering erratically, or acting suspiciously drunk in any way, a police officer has reasonable grounds to believe you might be biking while under the influence of drugs or alcohol and order you to stop.
Most college students are not aware that biking instead of driving after a party or night out at the bar is not safe either and both actions are illegal if your blood alcohol level is over the legal limit of 0.08. They think that because they are not getting behind the wheel of a car, they are following the state's DUI/DWI laws, but the laws extend beyond motor vehicles to incorporate a variety of public transportation methods.
Drunk Biking is Against the Law
You can, in fact, have your Pennsylvania driver's license suspended if you are arrested for drunk or drugged biking. Additionally, because 1547 of the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code designates PA as an implied consent state, if you have been pulled over and arrested for suspected DUI and you refuse to take a breathalyzer or submit to chemical testing, you could be charged with a DUI and the Department of Transportation would be authorized to suspend your license for a twelve-month period. Even if the person is not found guilty of drunk driving, the suspension stands.
In 2004, legislators from Pennsylvania made changes to section 1547 of the vehicle code, one of which was to remove the word "motor" as a defining characteristic of "vehicles" mentioned in the code. This extended the code's reach from just cars, trucks and vehicles with motors to include self-powered vehicles such as bicycles.
In Bilka v. DOT, the Commonwealth Court of PA found that the removal of "motor" in section 1547 extended all parts of the law to include bicycles - even the implied consent requirement. In the case's ruling, the judges said that "operating privilege as defined by the legislature in the Vehicle Code, is not only the privilege to apply for and obtain a driver's license, but also the privilege to use a vehicle on the highway."
Students who are trying to avoid DUI charges and the risks associated with drinking and driving may want to consider walking or taking an Uber or Lyft before turning to their bikes on the way home. Due to the nature of Pennsylvania's laws, drunk biking is just as problematic as drunk driving, and has similar legal repercussions, including license suspension.
For more information regarding drunk driving, biking, implied consent and license suspension statutes, contact the State College DUI attorneys at Rehmeyer and Allat today.