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Biking under the influence can have serious consequences

More and more people are taking it to the streets riding their bicycles to work, for pleasure, a general workout and even journeying on pub crawls – riding with friends and stopping at establishments that serve alcohol.

The last scenario brings to light the issue of biking under the influence (BUI). The dangers a drunken bicyclist creates may be similar to someone driving a motor vehicle, namely that they create a danger to themselves, other bicyclists, pedestrians and motor vehicle drivers.

According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS), 22 percent of bicyclists ages 16 and older who were killed in 2016 had blood alcohol levels at or above 0.08 percent, which is legally drunk.

Each state has different laws pertaining to biking under the influence, and some have no laws at all.

No DUI charges in Illinois for biking while drunk

In Illinois, a person cannot be charged with DUI for biking while drunk. According to state law, a bicycle is not legally defined as a vehicle. However, a person biking while drunk may be subject to other charges such as disorderly conduct or public intoxication.

Although bicycles weigh much less than motor vehicles and can’t go nearly as fast, operating one is still far from safe when mixing alcohol with bicycling.

Decreases reaction time

Alcohol can impair bicyclists who – when under the influence – have difficulty balancing their bicycles and moving through traffic. Alcohol also affects bicyclists similar to motor vehicle drivers because it decreases reaction time.

The result: You may collide with a fellow bicyclist on a nature trail, a pedestrian who has the right of way, and there’s the chance of getting hurt by blowing through a stop sign or traffic signal.

Educating and informing the public is important on this issue. Yes, it is a bit usual to be arrested biking under the influence, but so is driving a lawn tractor while drunk. Be wise, be careful, and you will continue to enjoy a lifetime of bicycling.