Legal Reference

Can you get a DUI on a bike in Arizona?

I have always thought that your could get busted for DUI while riding a bicycle in Arizona. In fact many years ago [some time prior to 1995] I read at least one story in the State Press or New Times about DUI busts of people on bicycles near ASU.

I know that the laws for driving a car also apply to riding a bicycle.

But of course laws change over time and in this article Sergeant Steve Carbajal of the Tempe PD says you can't get busted for DUI on a bike.

ARS 28-812. Applicability of traffic laws to bicycle riders

A person riding a bicycle on a roadway or on a shoulder adjoining a roadway is granted all of the rights and is subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this chapter and chapters 4 and 5 of this title, except special rules in this article and except provisions of this chapter and chapters 4 [DUI laws ARS 28-1301 to 28-1464] and 5 of this title that by their nature can have no application.

And guess what chapter 4 covers the laws related to DUI. Which is titled "Chapter 4 DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE" - so for now I suspect that Sergeant Steve Carbajal is right and currently you can't get busted for DUI while riding a bicycle.


Can you get a DUI on a bike?

Christina Kielb

Issue date: 9/30/10 Section: News

Arizona has some of the strictest DUI laws in the country.

According to the Arizona Department of Motor Vehicles, a standard DUI means a driver's blood alcohol content is at least .08 percent. For a first-time DUI conviction, there is a mandatory minimum 10 consecutive days in jail, a minimum $1,250 fine, a mandatory alcohol education class and a breathalyzer is installed in the offender's car for a minimum of 12 months. In some cases, a convicted drunk driver might be required to perform community service.

As such, people go to great lengths to avoid drinking and driving.

But what about drinking and pedaling? Can one get a DUI for riding a bike under the influence of alcohol?

Ed Beighe, a local Valley resident, had the same question. He manages the bicycle advocacy website has been riding his bicycle on a daily basis in Arizona for the past 10 years.

"I had heard stories," Beighe said. "One person would say something, and then someone else would say another."

After looking into state statutes and bicyclist laws, he concluded that it would depend on the county and jurisdiction of the court.

"Safety is often tangled into the law," Beighe said.

Still, Beighe said he would never put himself in a position where he could find out the answer first hand.

"I would never find myself [riding under the influence]," Beighe said. "And I don't advise anyone [to do the same]."

Media Relations Sergeant Steve Carbajal of the Tempe Police Department said that in Arizona there is no law regarding riding under the influence.

"[If you are] of legal age, you can be impaired on a bicycle," Carbajal said. "It's not safe, but it's legal."

Carbajal, who has been with the department for six years, said that the state of Arizona defines a bicycle as a device propelled by human power. He said that the DUI laws are "very specific to motor vehicles."

The law's stance on drinking and riding may come as a relief to participants in next month's Tour De Fat, a bicycle and beer festival that draws massive two-wheeled crowds to Tempe Beach Park.

As technology starts to blossom and people become more creative, the line between a bicycle and motor vehicle starts to become gray. Carbajal said that if someone were pulled over on a moped or a bicycle with a motor, it would be evaluated case by case.

"[We'd need to know] how many CCs, or whether or not it's a helper motor," Carbajal said.

However, Carbajal said that if a bicyclist isn't following the laws while riding, they could still be cited for a different violation. But, just like Beighe, he recommends that people do not ride under the influence.