After years of strict enforcement, most people are very aware that they shouldn't get behind the wheel while intoxicated. But as plenty of unsuspecting individuals have found out too late, DUI charges are not necessarily restricted to cars, trucks, and other automobiles. In many states, you could lose your driver's license while riding your bike or even a horse, if you are suspected of being under the influence at the time. Understanding how these laws work and how they apply to you can help you both avoid and fight DUI charges, even when your car is safely parked in the driveway.
Defining What Makes a Vehicle
As silly as it may seem, a simple distinction in phrasing has split state DUI laws into two separate camps. The first camp prohibits driving motor vehicles while under the influence, which includes cars but also extends to tractors, motorcycles, boats, snowmobiles and similarly powered vehicles. Other states, however, ban operating any vehicle after drinking or consuming other drugs, which is how some people end up with DUI charges after biking home from the bar.
Studying the Laws in Your State
In general, it is best to stay on your own two feet or rely on a sober individual for transportation whenever you are under the influence. But if you are concerned about how the laws in your state may apply to you, check its legal code pertaining to DUI charges for clarification. When in doubt, a local DUI attorney should be able to provide insight and recommendations for your specific situation.
Staying Aware of Public Intoxication Charges
Even in states that do not prohibit intoxicated bicycling, you should be aware of the potential for public intoxication charges. Although they are usually far less severe than DUI penalties, public intoxication still represents a fine and a mark on your record that you should seek to prevent. If a police officer notices you wobbling on your bicycle or smells alcohol on your breath, you may not be off the hook.
Seeking Legal Representation for a DUI Case
If you are already facing charges for a DUI that was not committed on a motorized vehicle, you should seek legal representation as quickly as possible to minimize its potential damage to your daily life and career. A skilled DUI attorney can help place your case in context and ensure that you have been treated fairly by a sometimes flawed justice system. Contact an attorney in your area today to begin mounting a legal defense as quickly as possible.