It is not a secret to anyone that driving while under the influence of drugs and alcohol is a very serious crime. Let's imagine a hypothetical situation. You're at a bar with your friends and you've had a few drinks. To play it safe tonight, you didn't drive. Instead, you rode a bike out to the bar, thinking that you would have a quick and safe ride home, without having to run the risk of encountering cops trying to catch you for a DUI. You may be surprised to learn that even if you are on a bicycle, you may still see those ominous red and blue lights flash behind you on your way back home.
Biking While Intoxicated
Washington State Law actually has a statute that covers what should be done if an officer sees a person using a bike while intoxicated. This is covered in RCW 46.61.790, the statute reads:
"(1) A law enforcement officer may offer to transport a bicycle rider who appears to be under the influence of alcohol or any drug and who is walking or moving along or within the right-of-way of a public roadway, unless the bicycle rider is to be taken into protective custody under RCW 70.96A.120. The law enforcement officer offering to transport an intoxicated bicycle rider under this section shall:
(a) Transport the intoxicated bicycle rider to a safe place; or
(b) Release the intoxicated bicycle rider to a competent person.
(2) The law enforcement officer shall not provide the assistance offered if the bicycle rider refuses to accept it. No suit or action may be commenced or prosecuted against the law enforcement officer, law enforcement agency, the state of Washington, or any political subdivision of the state for any act resulting from the refusal of the bicycle rider to accept this assistance."
In essence, if an officer suspects that you are biking while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they are to offer transport to either a safe place, such as your residence, or to a person who is able to see fit that you return home safely. While this may seem like a free ride from a generous cop, remember that the cops also have the authority to take you in under RCW 70.96A.120 if they perceive you as "a person who appears to be incapacitated or gravely disabled by alcohol or other drugs and who is in a public place or who has threatened, attempted, or inflicted physical harm on himself, herself, or another" when they approach you to try to provide assistance. While being taken into protective custody does not necessarily constitute criminal charges, many times these events can escalate into unintended criminal charges that cops love to hand out, such as resisting arrest or obstructing an officer.
Be wary of thinking a bike ride home from the bar cannot land you in trouble. If you or a loved one is currently facing criminal charges, contact criminal defense attorney Steve Karimi today.