02

Blog

Texas Bicycle Accident Lawyer: Can You Legally Drink and Bike?

Bicycling Under the Influence - Are You Breaking the Law?

As a bicycle accident attorney, I often find myself in conversations with bicyclists about whether riding under the influence is legal. This topic has recently gained steam, especially with the introduction of more bicycle lanes in urban areas (connecting residences to watering holes) and the growing popularity of pub crawls such as the monthly Critical Mass ride in Houston. The answer to whether pedaling under the influence is legal depends on each state’s respective DUI laws. This article addresses the issue in Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

photo 3

DUI laws in most states prohibit the operation of a vehicle while under the influence. Nevertheless, “vehicle” is a broad term that could arguably apply from a skateboard to an oil tanker and everything in between. Therefore, we must look to each state’s DUI laws to determine whether bicycles are included in the definition of prohibited vehicles.

In Texas, the law (Tex. Transp. Code Ann. §49.04) that prohibits driving while under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substances is written so that it applies to motor vehicles and therefore does not directly apply to bicyclists.

Louisiana has a DUI law that prohibits the operation of a motor vehicle, aircraft, watercraft, vessel, or other means of conveyance while intoxicated. The issue relating to bicycles came to a head in 2000 when the Louisiana Supreme Court decided the criminal case of State v. Carr, 761 So.2d 1271 (2000). In Carr, the Court held that the DUI law did not apply to a bicycle because both the interpretation and intention of the law were ambiguous in their application to bicycles [ed: same is true according to a South Carolina Attorney General’s opinion]. Since Carr, Louisiana lawmakers have not amended the statute to include bicycles.

In contrast, Mississippi’s law (Miss. Code Ann. §63-11-30) that prohibits driving while under the influence applies to all vehicles, including bicyclists. Therefore, bicycles should not be operated while intoxicated and operating a bicycle while under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substances may result in severe punishments.

Nevertheless, simply because an activity is legal doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a best practice. Intoxication may be more closely linked with activities that increase the risk of injury, such as riding without a helmet, at night, or without lights or reflective devices. Studies have confirmed this as well, such as one that analyzed 200 injured bicyclists at a trauma center in Austin, TX. This study found that 40 of these cyclists either had elevated blood alcohol levels or reported consuming alcohol. Additionally, this study found that bicyclists who had consumed alcohol had a higher rate of injury while riding at night or in the rain. Even in light of a separate 2007 study demonstrating that more bicyclist fatalities result from motorist intoxication than bicyclist intoxication, we encourage bicyclists to avoid riding under the influence when possible to ensure a safer shared roadway dynamic between motorists and bicyclists.

Comments

Nov 18, 2016

In the summer of 2014 Matthew Brenner was struck and killed by a motorist on Sands Street underneath the Manhattan Bridge in Brooklyn. From the moment of the crash there was more questions than answers. At the scene of the crash, the driver was not arrested or even issued a summons under NYC’s Right of Way […]

Read More
Sep 29, 2016

Please help us find the driver of the vehicle who struck and seriously injured our friend and client, Michelle Phillips on Tuesday, September 27, 2016. The vehicle appears to be a white Toyota Solara convertible with a tan top that ran a stop sign at Esplanade Avenue and Crete Street in New Orleans. As shown in […]

Read More
Sep 23, 2016

BREAKING NEWS: 9/28/16: Rebekah Abernathy’s hit and run driver has been identified and arrested. Michael Foley confessed to committing the crime in his 2007 Dodge. We understand that he was driving on a suspended license. Thanks to everyone who called with tips and sightings of the car. We’ll post updates with the criminal case as they […]

Read More
DOT truck crashed into house.
Sep 21, 2016

On my way home from work last night, I passed by the site of a home adjacent to a 5 lane road in Columbia, that just had a work truck plow through its front door.  The truck entered the front room of a house.  This isn’t entirely news in Columbia.  Two years ago, another truck […]

Read More
Bike Law Jersey 10
Sep 20, 2016

It’s new Kit Day at Bike Law HQ!  The one and only Joni Taylor from Texmarket has come through yet again on version 4.0. At this point in our jersey game, the new improvements are tiny, because our 3.0 was pretty darn good. But this is our best yet. The fabrics, the cut, the details, […]

Read More
dooring
Sep 15, 2016

9/16/16 UPDATE: The driver has contacted our office and appears to be cooperating.  Now we intend to follow up with respect to the responding officer’s actions.  Thanks to everyone for their help identifying this driver. *** At 5:13 pm on September 12, 2016, a bicyclist was doored at 2359 N. Milwaukee Avenue in Chicago. Here’s the video. The cyclist […]

Read More
IMG_0706
Aug 31, 2016

When he’s not riding his bike, Jason Lazarus can be referred to in any number of ways.   He owns a small business that helps people who are disabled.   He’s a lawyer who is the owner of a small firm.  Between the 2 ventures, he employs many people and helps the needs of hundreds and hundreds […]

Read More
20168250raxr
Aug 26, 2016

As a bike crash lawyer, I have seen far too many crashes that get unfairly reported when a vulnerable road user such as a cyclist or pedestrian is involved.  There is a tendency to turn the initial focus on the conduct of the victim.   This sets up a situation of victim blaming and promotes the […]

Read More
14115397_10209964575208064_7257094583491505930_o
Aug 26, 2016

Well, road rage has again reared its ugly head near Charlotte, North Carolina. This time no one was hurt, but the behavior was life threatening, photos were taken, and the social media story went viral. As a bike crash attorney in Charlotte, and as a member of the Bike Law national network, I deal with […]

Read More
Aug 24, 2016

He had just been launched skyward by the front end of a pickup truck.  Now the police were giving him a ticket. Jason was riding his road bike in the travel lane of North River Road in Libertyville, Illinois with his father-in-law and two friends when an impatient teenaged driver in a Toyota Tacoma pulled […]

Read More
hqdefault
Aug 19, 2016

If a picture is worth a thousand words then a video is worth a million.  As every lawyer knows, a crash will have multiple versions of the event; your client’s story, the defendant’s story, and the truth.  A video always gets us to the truth. Rarely are we as lucky to have a client with […]

Read More
IMG_3840
Aug 12, 2016

Since I have returned home from riding across Iowa, a lot of people have asked, “What’s RAGBRAI like?” Well, it’s a lot like riding your bike for the fun of it with your friends and meeting lots of like-minded folks along the route—kind of like when you were a kid. It’s also like a choose-your-adventure […]

Read More
Load More