By Bryan Fife, Esq.

Bicycling home from your local pub, bar or brewery seems like a smart and logical option. Perhaps you don’t have a car or you thought you were being safe by not driving. Despite your good intentions, you may be at risk for being charged with a DUI.

As bicycling becomes a preferred mode of transportation in bigger cities, collisions between bikers and motor vehicles are on the rise. A large percentage of these accidents the bicyclist test positive for alcohol.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 24 percent of the cyclists killed in 2010 had a blood alcohol concentration of .01 grams per deciliter or higher, and over one-fifth had a BAC of .08 g/dL or higher. And alcohol-involvement — either for the driver of a motorized vehicle or a cyclist — was reported in more than 34 percent of the traffic crashes that resulted in a cyclist fatality. In response, legislators addressed this concern by specifically adding bicycles to the definition of vehicle.

Under Colorado statute 42-4-1301, “Driving under the influence” means driving a motor vehicle or vehicle when a person has consumed alcohol or one or more drugs, or a combination of alcohol and one or more drugs, that affects the person to a degree that the person is substantially incapable, either mentally or physically, or both mentally and physically, to exercise clear judgment, sufficient physical control, or due care in the safe operation of a vehicle.

Before, cyclists thought this only applied to motorized vehicles. However, legislators have decided to specifically include bicycles under the definition of vehicles. “Vehicle” means a device that is capable of moving itself, or of being moved, from place to place upon wheels or endless tracks. “Vehicle” includes, without limitation, a bicycle, electrical assisted bicycle, or EPAMD, but does not include a wheelchair, off-highway vehicle, snowmobile, farm tractor, or implement of husbandry designed primarily or exclusively for use and used in agricultural operations or any device moved exclusively over stationary rails or tracks or designed to move primarily through the air 42-1-102(112).

If charged, you will be looking at the same penalties associated with driving a motor vehicle under the influence. This is of growing concern with our clients, as you could be facing a $600 to $1,000 fine; up to 1 year in jail; up to 96 hours community service; alcohol education for the first offense. However, you will not be facing a license revocation. (Lucky you!)

As arrests for bicycling under the influence continue to rise, you should begin to plan for a safe alternative in getting safely home. However, if you have been charged with a DUI, please contact the attorneys at the Contiguglia Law Firm, P.C. We have a dedicated staff of attorneys who can assist you in all criminal defense matters.

Bryan Fife is an associate attorney at the Contiguglia Law Firm, P.C. His practice includes Traffic, DUI and Misdemeanor criminal cases.