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Can I Get a DUI on a Bike in Illinois?

Updated on March 15, 2023 → Under

Rather than drive your motor vehicle or take an Uber to and from an event where the consumption of alcoholic drinks is involved, some people ride their bikes. Even though you avoid the risk of getting involved in a serious motor vehicle accident and injuring other people, is it possible to still get a DUI on a bike in Illinois? 

Although many states consider impaired bike riding as equivalent to drunk driving and punishable as such, Illinois isn't one of those states. According to the laws in Illinois, drunk drivers are prohibited from operating motor vehicles. This means you can't get charged with a DUI while bicycling in Illinois. 

However, this doesn't make you immune to other criminal charges. For instance, if your behavior while riding your bike drunk causes alarm or disturbance to the peace, you might be charged with disorderly conduct. Bicycle operators on the road also must follow the same traffic laws as motorists, so committing a traffic offense will also result in a traffic stop. 

On the other hand, e-scooters and bicycles modified with an electric motor and battery-powered engines are considered motor vehicles and subject to Illinois DUI laws. Yet, if the engine doesn't generate speeds greater than 20 miles per hour, you need not worry about a drunk driving charge. 

If you or a family member has been charged with intoxicated bike riding in Chicago, contact an experienced DUI attorney at Dohman Law Group at 847-359-4005 and schedule a no-cost initial consultation. Our experienced attorneys have helped thousands build a strong defense and beat or reduce DUI charges throughout Cook county, DuPage County, and more.

What is Drunk Biking in Illinois? 

Do you ride your bike to work, school, for recreation, or for sport? Many people do in the greater Chicago metro area. In fact, more people are also using their bikes as their primary form of transportation. This isn't surprising as gas prices continue to rise alongside serious concerns for the environment. 

Sometimes, though, people who ride their bicycles – like those who drive – consume alcoholic drinks and then hop on the bicycle to peddle home. That's a scary situation for just about anyone: you--other pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists – based, of course, on your biking route.

According to Illinois' definition of a vehicle, the following vehicles are subject to DUIs:

  • Trucks
  • Cars
  • Snowmobiles
  • Motorcycles
  • Mopeds
  • Boats
  • Golf carts

Traditional bikes, however, don't qualify because they're "moved by human power." Again, in Illinois DUI laws don't apply to bicycles the same as they do motor vehicles. 

This, however, doesn't mean there won't be consequences for drunk biking in Illinois.

Learn More: The Real Cost of a DUI

What Happens if I Get Caught Riding a Bike While Drunk?

The consequences of riding your bicycle under the influence of alcohol or other drugs are many. Drugs and alcohol impair the senses. Riding a bicycle is a dangerous activity even when you're sober and in control of all your senses, and all the more dangerous when you're intoxicated and not in complete control. 

So, when you ride a bicycle while impaired by alcohol or drugs, you put yourself and everyone around you at risk. If a law enforcement officer witnesses you riding your bicycle and suspects you're impaired, they may stop you and question you. This can cause an arrest for disorderly conduct or a citation for traffic violations. 

Can I Get a DUI on a Bike in Illinois?

In Illinois, disorderly conduct is a criminal offense that's governed by 720 ILCS 5/26-1. This statute covers criminal offenses ranging from misdemeanor offenses to felony offenses. Like the Illinois drunk driving statute, this law doesn't specifically address the operation of bicycles under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Instead, you can be charged with this criminal offense for certain acts you do while riding your bicycle drunk. You won't be charged with this criminal offense for biking while drunk. Some relevant actions banned by the statute include:

  • Breaches of the peace (the most relevant),
  • False fire alarms,
  • False reports of violence,
  • Peeping-Tom type invasion of privacy, and
  • Calling 911 without a valid reason.

Breach of the peace occurs when a person: Does anything in an unreasonable manner that raises alarm or disturbs another person, provoking a breach of the peace. Examples of acts that breach the peace include:

  • Public urination,
  • Public intoxication,
  • Obscenities or loud shouting,
  • Public brawls,
  • Disrupting a public assembly.

Once charged with disorderly conduct under these instances, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the offender:

  • Knowingly committed an act,
  • That disturbed or alarmed at least one other person,
  • In a manner so unreasonable, and 
  • That it provoked a breach of the peace.

Typically, the statute is vague – intentionally so it can cover as many actions as possible. Though this is to the law enforcement officer's advantage when arresting offenders, it is also to an attorney's advantage when defending you. It gives lawyers room to argue that the action wasn't unreasonable and didn't provoke a breach of the peace.

Further, bicyclists are also subject to all the same traffic rules and regulations as motorists are. Bike operators must stop at stop signs. They must yield when appropriate. They must stop at pedestrian crosswalks for pedestrians. They must ride in the same direction as traffic. They can't ride on sidewalks unless they're specifically permitted. They must adhere to all the traffic signs as motorists. If they don't adhere to do any of these or other traffic rules applicable to bicyclists, they could be ticketed. 

And if drinking impairs your judgment and causes you to continue riding when you should have actually stopped, then you could get a traffic ticket. However, the traffic ticket only addresses the failure to obey the traffic rules and not to bike while drunk.

Related: Blood Alcohol Concetration in Illinois

Although you can't get a DUI while riding a bicycle while intoxicated, you can get a drunk driving charge while being in operating a motor vehicle. In criminal court, many judges make examples of intoxicated driving cases by punishing the accused with maximum criminal penalties. If you face drunk driving charges, a Rolling Meadows criminal defense lawyer can help. The Rolling Meadows DUI criminal defense attorneys at Dohman Law Group will fiercely negotiate on your behalf to protect your legal rights. To schedule a no-cost initial consultation contact our Rolling Meadows law offices today at 847-359-4005

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