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Cycling Under the Influence

Riding a bicycle under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI) is in a violation of California Vehicle Code Section 21200.5 and is a crime in California. A conviction of riding bicycle under influence of alcohol or drugs is punishable by a fine of not more than two hundred fifty dollars ($250) - considerably less than the punishment for driving a vehicle under the influence of alcohol. However, there's no reason not to fight a California CUI charge. An experienced California DUI defense lawyer will aggressively challenge a cycling under the influence case on a number of issues.

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Attorneys for the firm represent clients accused of driving under the influence of alcohol or driving with a blood alcohol level at or above the legal limit in San Francisco, San Mateo, Marin, Alameda, Santa Clara, Contra Costa, Sonoma and Napa counties.

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In a California driving under the influence (DUI), or driving while intoxicated (DWI) case, the prosecutor must prove that the motorist was driving a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Bicycles aren't considered vehicles in California, and therefore are not covered by the usual laws governing drunk driving, but the California Vehicle Code has a separate provision, Riding Bicycle Under Influence of Alcohol or Drugs, that states:

"Notwithstanding Section 21200, it is unlawful for any person to ride a bicycle upon a highway while under the influence of an alcoholic beverage or any drug, or under the combined influence of an alcoholic beverage and any drug. Any person arrested for a violation of this section may request to have a chemical test made of the person's blood, breath, or urine for the purpose of determining the alcoholic or drug content of that person's blood pursuant to Section 23612, and, if so requested, the arresting officer shall have the test performed. A conviction of a violation of this section shall be punished by a fine of not more than two hundred fifty dollars ($250). Violations of this section are subject to Section 13202.5."

California cyclists suspected of CUI may be asked to complete a field sobriety test such as the walk and turn test. Although field sobriety tests are optional, many police officers neglect to advise drivers and cyclists of this fact. Field sobriety tests are designed to be failed, and the results serve only to justify an arrest and provide evidence in a court case.

As in California drunk driving case, any cyclist arrested for cycling under the influence must submit to a chemical test to determine blood alcohol content (BAC). Unlike California DUI laws governing vehicles, which set a "Per Se" limit of .08 percent BAC, there is no magic number in a CUI case.

Riding a bicycle under influence of alcohol or drugs charges can be attacked on several fronts, one of which is to challenge whether the cyclist was in fact riding on a "highway." Although the definition of highway includes public streets, it excludes driveways and private roads.

A second approach is to question the results of a chemical test to determine person's blood alcohol content (BAC). Because chemical tests are often administered at least an hour after arrest, the results can be inflated if the individual's body has continued to absorb alcohol between the time of arrest and the time the test is administered. It's not against the law to be under the influence hours later at the police station, only when actually riding a bicycle.

Cycling under the influence cases can be successfully challenged. A California criminal DUI defense attorney with experience fighting CUI cases will use a tested defense strategy designed to keep negative consequences to a minimum.

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