Earlier this week, the Denver Police Department announced that biking under the influence occurrences would be enforced. While a DUI conviction can result from riding a bicycle impaired by alcohol, Chief Robert White directed patrol officers to begin enforcing it.
Colorado DUI law provides that a person operating a vehicle under the influence is illegal. Unlike other traffic and misdemeanor laws, the requirement that the vehicle be motorized is not included from the DUI law. This means that anyone operating anything mobile could get a DUI.
Impaired biking is not something that should be that much of a surprise. The Boulder Police and Sheriff’s Office have been enforcing this law for years. With cycling and mountain biking are so popular in Colorado, it is a surprise that Denver law enforcement has not been implementing it in the past.
When a motorist is arrested for DUI, he or she could face a separate driver’s license administrative action based on the result of a breath or blood test, or as a result of refusing a test. While biking under the influence does not have a similar driver’s license consequence, a DUI conviction in court still carries the possibility of jail and all of the other penalties that come with drink driving.
“Alcohol consumption is not the only act that is regulated,” said criminal defense attorney Jay Tiftickjian. “Marijuana and all of the other controlled substance are covered under our state’s DUI laws.” Mr. Tiftickjian said that biking under the influence cases are rare, but he has seen them. “With the recent legalization of marijuana and the danger that bicyclists can cause to themselves and others, we will see more cycling under the influence cases soon.”
Time will tell whether enforcement increases in this area. With all of Colorado’s bike paths and trails, it would require a big commitment by the government to provide additional officers and funding to follow through with the initiative.