The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that in 2013, Florida was the state with the second highest number of bicycle accident fatalities. While bicycle accidents can occur in a large number of ways, many of these accidents occurred due to riders who attempted to operate bicycles while under the influence of alcohol and drugs.
DUIs are one of the most commonly initiated charges against motor vehicle operators in Florida, but bicyclists can also end up facing DUI charges related to riding a bicycle. Not to mention, riding a bicycle while intoxicated by alcohol or drugs in Florida can result in serious accidents that lead to life-changing injuries and fatalities. As a result, all bicyclists should understand the various laws and consequences that can result from operating a bicycle while intoxicated. If you have been charged with operating a bicycle in Florida, you should not hesitate to obtain the assistance of a skilled accident attorney who appreciates how appreciates just how serious these consequences are and will help you create a strong response strategy.
Bicycles Are the Same as Cars in the Eyes of Florida Law
Florida Statutes 316.003(75) defines a vehicle for the purposes of the law as any device used to transport a person or property on a highway except vehicles that travel on stationary tracks. As a result of this regulation, the state considers bicycles as “vehicles” just like motor vehicles, which means that bicyclists in the state are required to follow all of Florida’s road regulations including DUI laws. This means that much like motor vehicles, courts in Florida can impound your bicycle even for a first DUI conviction.
There is, however, one significant difference in Florida between motor vehicles and bicycles: a bicyclist cannot be administratively suspended for refusing to take a breathalyzer test, but a motor vehicle operator who refuses to conduct a breathalyzer test can end up facing a one-year license suspension by the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles.
The Basis of a Bicycle DUI
To be charged a DUI in Florida, law enforcement must establish that a person was operating a bicycle with a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or higher. Frequently, a blood test or breath tests is used to establish that a person has a blood alcohol content at this level. A bicyclist can also be charged if law enforcement can verify that the rider was under the influence of alcohol or drugs to such a degree that their ability to safely operate a bicycle was impaired.
Because Florida views bicycle similar to motor vehicles, a person who is charged with a first time DUI charge while on a bicycle will end up facing the same charges that a motor vehicle driver charged with a first time DUI would.
Speak with an Experienced Bicycle Accident Attorney
If you have been injured in a bicycle accident and another person is responsible, you should not hesitate to speak with an experienced bicycle accident attorney. Attorney Guy S. DiMartino DC, JD, PA has helped many people who have been impacted by bicycle accidents and knows what it takes to make sure that your case resolves in the best possible manner. Contact our law office today to schedule a free case evaluation.