Does it Still Count as a DUI in Michigan if You’re on a Bicycle?

A picture of a bicycle leaning up against a building at night, with the city lights in the background.
Riding a bike wouldn’t count as “drunk driving” under Michigan law unless the bicycle happens to be motorized.

When you think of drunk driving, your first thought doesn’t usually include a bicycle. Unless of course, you’re referring to the victim of a drunk driving crash. But what about people who ride their bicycles under the influence of drugs or alcohol? Are they still guilty of operating while intoxicated, or doesn’t it count when the vehicle you’re on doesn’t have a motor?

How is drunk driving defined in Michigan law?

As it turns out, the lack of a motor plays a role in how Michigan law defines drunk driving. Under the current state of Michigan drunk driving  law, Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) is defined as:

  • Operating a motorized vehicle 
  • Being on a highway or other place open to the public, or generally accessible to motor vehicles;
  • In a specific county or city in Michigan
  • Either under the influence of alcohol or some other intoxicating substance

The “motorized” part of that vehicle description is important!

All four of those factors have to come into play for it to count as drunk driving. So when you remove the “motorized vehicle” portion, you change the definition of the crime. In other words, if the vehicle you’re on or in doesn’t have a motor, it doesn’t count as drunk driving. So riding around on a bike while you’re intoxicated may be stupid and dangerous, but it’s not technically illegal. Unless of course, your’s is one of those bicycles that has a motor on it. 

However, be aware that you could end up breaking other laws.

It may not count as drunk driving to ride around on your bike when you’ve had a few too many, but there are other issues to consider. If you crash your bike into someone’s house or car, or worse – into another person, you can be liable for the damages. Damaging private property or injuring a person can still result in criminal or civil liabilities.

Plus, there’s the danger factor to consider!

One of the primary reasons that drunk driving is illegal is because it’s dangerous. You could injure yourself or someone else when you’re trying to operate a vehicle while you’re intoxicated. And while a bicycle certainly won’t do as much damage as a car or a boat, you can still hurt yourself or injure other people. So our advice would be to do your drinking in a safe place, like in your own home, where you’re not likely to endanger anyone else.

Drunk driving charges are very serious in Michigan!

If you or a loved one have been accused of driving under the influence of either drugs or alcohol, you’re going to need a highly skilled and experienced DUI defense attorney. At The Kronzek Firm, our drunk driving defense attorneys aggressively defend clients against DUI, Drunk Driving, OUI, OWI, and all major felony and misdemeanor criminal charges in Michigan courts. Call 866 766 5245 (1 866 7NoJail) to discuss your case with a tough DUI defense attorney today. We can help you just liked we’ve helped hundreds of other clients over the past decades!

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