Choosing to bike home after a night of beers may seem like a good idea and while it won’t lead to a charge for driving under the influence (DUI), it can result in a fine or even an arrest.
While most Greater Victoria residents are aware that riding a bike without a helmet can result in a ticket and a fine, there is confusion about the legality of hopping on a bicycle while impaired.
Can a cyclist get a DUI in B.C.? Const. Markus Anastasiades, public information officer for the Saanich police, explained that the short answer is no.
However, he pointed out that while it’s not a criminal offense and there is no specific charge in the Motor Vehicle Act (MVA) for impaired biking, a person doing so can be issued a ticket for other reasons.
The way in which someone is riding could be a violation under the MVA, Anastasiades explained. Whether or not they’re impaired, a cyclist could, for example, be ticketed for careless cycling or cycling without reasonable consideration if they aren’t paying attention to the other road users. The fine for both offenses is $109. Anastasiades noted that violating these offenses doesn’t result in demerits on the cyclist’s driver’s license.
Someone cycling while impaired could also be charged under the B.C. Liquor Control and Licensing Act. People aren’t permitted to be intoxicated in public areas, Anastasiades explained.
Lindsay Wilkins, a spokesperson for ICBC, emphasized that whether an intoxicated person is on a bike or not, depending on the circumstances, they could be arrested, face charges or be fined for public intoxication or for causing a disturbance.
Anastasiades also pointed out that if an impaired cyclist injured or killed someone in a collision, they could be charged with criminal negligence under the Criminal Code.
“If you put together the legal consequences, risks to the public and the facts that riding a bicycle requires fine motor skills, balance and important decision making, riding while impaired doesn’t make any sense,” Anastasiades said.
Police recommend finding a safer way home by having a designated driver, calling a taxi or using public transit.