Though most people know about the harsh consequences for driving a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it is important to be aware that California law has carved out a separate crime for cycling under the influence. While the punishments for a CUI offense are less severe than a DUI or DUID, a conviction will result in a fine and a criminal record which can lead to a number of collateral consequences. If you find yourself charged with CUI, it is critical to discuss your case with a drunk driving lawyer.
Understanding California Cycling Under the Influence Charges
Under California Vehicle Code §21200.5, it is illegal to ride a bicycle on a highway while under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or both. In order to prove that you are guilty of this offense, the prosecutor must demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that you:
- Were Riding a Bicycle
- On a highway
- While under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or a combination of the two
A bicycle means a device upon which any person may ride, propelled exclusively by human power through a belt, chain, or gears, and having one or more wheels. A highway is defined as a natural or publicly maintained area that is open for the purpose of public vehicular travel, which would exclude private roads and driveways.
The CUI statute does not contain a legal BAC limit as it does with driving under the influence, so a charge of cycling under the influence will likely be based on personal observations indicating signs of impairment such as slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, the smell of alcohol, erratic behavior, etc. If an officer suspects that you are riding a bicycle under the influence, you may be asked to complete a series of field sobriety tests as part of the investigation. The CUI statute does give the person being investigated for cycling under the influence the right to request a blood, breath or urine test. If such a request is made, the officer must comply.
Penalties for a California CUI ConvictionDefenses For CUI Charges
There are a number of ways to challenge a CUI charge. Field sobriety tests are often subjective and unreliable, and signs of impairment can be caused by medical or environmental factors. The arresting officer must have probable cause to stop the cyclist and the proper procedures must be followed when conducting blood and breath tests. When those procedures are not followed, it compromises the reliability of the test results. Any police misconduct or constitutional violations would also be grounds to contest a CUI charge.
Contact an Experienced San Diego Lawyer
If you have been charged with cycling under the influence, it is important that you speak with an experienced San Diego DUI attorney. Attorney Jessica McElfresh is an experienced and skilled lawyer who is prepared to fight the charges against you. As a former prosecutor, she is highly qualified to challenge the evidence against you and negotiate on your behalf to achieve the best possible resolution for your case. McElfresh understands what is at stake and is committed to helping her clients put this stressful time behind them so they can move on with their lives.