When it comes to driving under the influence, Michigan has some of the most severe penalties of any state. Even first-time offenders, if convicted, may face significant fines, up to three months of jail time, and up to 45 days of community service. But can you get a DUI on a bike?
In most U.S. states, riding a bicycle while intoxicated is not considered a DUI violation. Such is the case in Michigan. In Michigan, you will not be charged with a DUI if you are riding a bike while under the influence. However, if you are found riding a bike while intoxicated by alcohol or under the influence of drugs, you may face other charges and penalties.
In some states, for example in Florida, you can be charged with a DUI if you are riding a bike while intoxicated. The difference here is whether a bicycle is considered a vehicle or not. According to bicycle traffic laws in Florida, a bicycle is legally defined as a vehicle and the bicyclist is a driver. Bicyclists have the same rights to the roadways and must obey the same traffic laws as the drivers of other vehicles.
As you can see below, Michigan’s DUI statute section 257.625, does not explicitly cover biking while under the influence.
Excerpt from section 257.625:
(1) A person, whether licensed or not, shall not operate a vehicle on a highway or other place open to the general public or generally accessible to motor vehicles, including an area designated for the parking of vehicles, within this state if the person is operating while intoxicated.
So, does Michigan law consider a bicycle a vehicle?
No. Although it is dangerous to ride a bike while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, Michigan does not consider a bike as a motor vehicle. A DUI specifically applies to motor vehicles. However, other charges such as being intoxicated and a danger to oneself or others may apply.
Even if DUI charges do not apply to a bike, another factor that will determine the severity of charges is whether or not the bike is being driven in traffic, for example on a roadway.
Michigan bike safety laws do state that bicycles on the roadway have the same rights and responsibilities as motorized vehicles.
It is also important to note that, while in Michigan a bike is not considered a motor vehicle, a “motorized vehicle” isn’t limited to a car or truck. This means persons driving under the influence may be charged with DUI while operating any kind of motorized vehicle including a tractor, a motorcycle, an ATV, snowmobile, a boat, and so on.
Public Intoxication Charges in Michigan
Although you will not be charged with a DUI for riding a bike, that does not mean you will not receive any charges at all.
If you are found under the influence and under the age of 21, you will still receive an MIP charge for public drunkenness. MIP or “Minor in Possession” applies to any person under the legal drinking age of 21 who possesses or consumes alcohol. Underage consumption is illegal, typically a misdemeanor. In Michigan, first-time offenders will be charged with a civil infraction, face a $100 fine, and will usually be required to do community service as well as a substance abuse class. A first-time MIP charge will not result in any jail time.
In Michigan, you cannot be charged for just being drunk in public. but you may be taken into protective custody for up to 8 hours, usually a jail, or be required to take part in a rehabilitation or service program. Additionally, other charges such as for property damage may also apply.
What a person is doing while publicly drunk is also important. For example, you can be charged for disturbing the peace and be arrested for drunk and disorderly conduct if you are a disturbance to other people while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Charges of disorderly conduct usually accompany the use of alcohol or drugs.
Most disorderly conduct crimes involve public intoxication or creating a disturbance while intoxicated. In Michigan, disorderly conduct is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or a $100 fine.
Even if you not causing any public disturbance, a person may be taken into protective custody and held for up to 8 hours, usually a jail.
Another example of charges a person could face, that are not DUI charges, include any damages or bike-safety law violations. If a person is found riding a bike while intoxicated and violates a traffic law that causes an accident, the person will definitely be held responsible for any penalties as well as personal injuries and other losses incurred by others involved in the accident. An intoxicated bicyclist is also subject to civil infraction charges of careless driving or other traffic offenses as outlined in Michigan’s bike-safety laws.
Can You Get Arrested for Riding a Bike While Under the Influence?
As described above, operating a bike while under the influence of alcohol or drugs does not constitute a DUI charge but that doesn’t mean you will not be arrested. A person may be held in custody or arrested for many of the other violations that could result from being intoxicated.
So, what can you do if you are arrested in Michigan?
When a person is arrested, the police officer is obligated to inform them of their rights, which include the right to remain silent, and the right to an attorney.
Persons being arrested can be easily agitated, but it is important to be respectful of the police and their process. The time of arrest is not the right time to fight a case. Cooperation is important and in the best interests of the person being arrested.
When arrested, the police will confiscate the person’s property. This is usually done for their own protection. Any property confiscated will be returned, with the exception of anything illegal such as illegal substances.
If the police officer or officers wish to speak, it is not required that a person answers any questions. A person’s silence during the time of arrest cannot be held against them. As all persons arrested have the right to an attorney, a person may call on their attorney or if they cannot afford one, one will be appointed upon request.
At Rasor Law, we highly suggest that any person under arrest seek effective legal help as this is one of the most crucial periods in defending a case. A person’s decisions directly after their arrest can affect the entire case going forward.
After a person has been processed, a person may be released on bond or may need to appear before a judge. If released on bond, a person will usually receive information about their first court appearance; time and date. If brought to court, this will be the person’s first court appearance. In a person’s first court appearance, they will be told what they are charged with as well as the potential sentence for that charge, usually the maximum sentence. If the person has not already been released by bond, the police officer will set the bond at this point. The court will inform them of their next court date.
A publicly appointed attorney will not be defending you at your first court appearance. This is why finding a competent attorney at this time is very important and will help determine many factors that come after this first appearance, including whether or not a person will need to remain in jail or not during the course of the trial.
If a person is released by bond, it will take a few hours to process the person out of jail. During this period a person will be able to make a phone call to arrange transportation. Following a person’s arrest, it is very important to seek legal representation if not already found, and to appear at all scheduled court appearances.
Alternative Modes of Transportation if Intoxicated
If you are intoxicated, there are many safe ways of returning home without driving or riding a bicycle. Choosing one of these options will avoid any legal trouble a person may get into.
- Designated Driver (“DD”)
- Public Transportation
Summary: Can You Get a DUI on a Bike?
Can you get a DUI on a bike in Michigan? The short answer is “no”. You will not be charged with a DUI for driving a bike while under the influence. However, a person may receive other public intoxication charges.
The best way to avoid any charges is to control your alcohol intake and stay away from illegal substances. However, should you find yourself being charged for some of the charges listed above, Rasor Law is here to provide experienced and effective legal representation. If you are facing charges, call 833-JIM-WINS to speak to one of our attorneys.