Jason Stephens | April 4, 2022 | Bicycle Accidents
Texas does not release official counts of drunk bicycling accidents. But the state did record a total of 2,170 bicycle crashes in 2021.
Unlike many states, Texas does not have a law that prohibits bicycling under the influence of drugs or alcohol. But Texas does have a very broad DUI statute. This statute arguably covers DUI while riding a bike.
Here are some facts about DUI laws in Texas and whether you can get arrested for bicycling while drunk in Fort Worth.
Laws Against Drunkenness in Texas
Texas has several laws that relate to alcohol and public drunkenness, including:
Texas has laws against driving while intoxicated (DWI) and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI). You commit a DWI when you drive a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol.
Courts punish DWI as a Class B misdemeanor. If you had a child under the age of 15 in the car with you or a blood alcohol level over 0.15%, prosecutors could file the case as a Class A misdemeanor.
Do DWI Laws Apply to Bicyclists?
Possibly. The DWI law refers to operating a “motor vehicle” while intoxicated. But under the Texas Penal Code, motor vehicles include any device for transporting people or property, excluding trains. In theory, this includes bicycles since they are vehicles that transport people.
Only minors can commit a DUI in Texas. DUIs occur when minors operate motor vehicles or watercraft with any detectable amount of alcohol in their systems.
DUIs usually result in a monetary fine plus community service. But repeat offenders can get sentenced to jail time.
Do DUI Laws Apply to Bicycles?
Again – possibly. DUI uses the same definition for “motor vehicle” as DWI. This definition is broad enough to include bicycles.
Public intoxication happens when someone appears intoxicated in public and endangers others. Prosecutors can file public intoxication charges as a Class C misdemeanor. This means you can get fined but not imprisoned upon conviction.
Do Public Intoxication Laws Apply to Bicycles?
This criminal offense is the best fit for bicycling while drunk. While DWI and DUI could apply to bicyclists because of the nature of the definitions, the possible punishments do not necessarily fit the offense. Bicycles can endanger pedestrians and other cyclists but do not tend to pose much of a danger to vehicle drivers and passengers.
The public intoxication law specifically contemplates this type of endangerment to others. And since public intoxication does not require any type of motor vehicle, it seems to fit bicyclists better than DWI and DUI.
Risks of Drinking and Cycling
The greatest risk of drinking and cycling is not a traffic citation. It comes from causing a bicycle accident. Drugs and alcohol impair your judgment. You will have difficulty judging the distance and speed of vehicles and obstacles.
Alcohol can interfere with your balance and reactions. You will have difficulty staying on your bike. Alcohol also impairs your reactions, affecting your ability to navigate traffic.
If you drink, you should avoid cycling. Getting a taxi or rideshare instead of cycling can save you from an arrest and an accident.
Contact Our Personal Injury Law Firm in Fort Worth, TX
If you’ve been injured in an accident in Fort Worth and need legal help, contact our Fort Worth personal injury lawyers at Stephens Law Personal Injury | Wrongful Death | Truck Accidents to schedule a free consultation.
Stephens Law Personal Injury | Wrongful Death | Truck Accidents
1300 S University Dr # 406
Fort Worth, TX 76107