The Kugel Law Firm's Blog

Can You Get a DUI on a Bike?

Posted on July 28, 2023


Riding a bicycle can be an enjoyable and eco-friendly means of transportation and recreation. However, it is important to understand that the laws surrounding cycling while under the influence of alcohol or drugs in New Jersey are not to be taken lightly. While riding a manually-operated bicycle while intoxicated may not result in a DUI charge, it can still have significant legal consequences. Therefore, being knowledgeable about New Jersey’s laws on intoxicated cycling is crucial to ensure compliance, protect your rights, and maintain your safety.

New Jersey takes driving under the influence (DUI) offenses seriously, and it’s important to understand the specific laws that apply to DUI cases involving bicycles. To navigate these laws effectively, it’s crucial to have a clear understanding of how DUI laws operate in New Jersey, including the distinction between DUI and DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) and the applicable laws for bicycles.

If you find yourself facing a biking under the influence charge in New Jersey, it is imperative to seek the assistance of a skilled New Jersey DUI lawyer. A DUI lawyer with extensive experience in handling cases involving bicycles can provide you with the necessary legal guidance and support to navigate the complexities of the legal system. Take action now by consulting with a reputable New Jersey DUI lawyer from The Kugel Law Firm. We can help protect your rights, minimize the legal repercussions, and advocate for your best interests. Call (973) 854-0098 today to learn more about how we can help you.

Applicable Laws for Bicycles in New Jersey

DUI laws in New Jersey are designed to ensure the safety of all road users, including bicyclists. The state’s laws prohibit individuals from operating vehicles under the influence of alcohol or drugs, including motorized and manually-operated bicycles. 

While bicycles are not classified as motor vehicles, they are still considered vehicles under state law. As a result, bicyclists must adhere to traffic rules, such as obeying traffic signals, yielding the right of way, and riding in the same direction as traffic. These laws apply regardless of whether a bicyclist is under the influence or not.

When it comes to DUI offenses specifically involving bicycles, the applicable laws and penalties differ from those for motor vehicles. It’s important to understand these distinctions to navigate the legal landscape effectively.

By familiarizing yourself with the DUI laws in New Jersey, understanding the difference between DUI and DWI, and being aware of the applicable laws for bicycles, you can better comprehend the legal framework surrounding DUI offenses involving bicycles. This knowledge will enable you to make informed decisions and take appropriate actions to protect your rights and navigate any legal proceedings that may arise.

Riding a Manual Bicycle While Intoxicated 

While riding a manually-operated bicycle while intoxicated is illegal in New Jersey, the charges may not fall under the category of DUI. In New Jersey, a manual bicycle refers to a bicycle that is solely operated by human power, without the assistance of a motor or engine. This includes traditional pedal-powered bicycles commonly used for transportation and recreational purposes. It’s important to note that the definition of a manual bicycle excludes motorized bicycles, which are subject to different regulations and laws.

New Jersey does not have specific legal limits for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) when it comes to riding a manual bicycle. However, it’s crucial to understand that any level of impairment caused by alcohol or drugs can impair a cyclist’s ability to operate a bicycle safely. It is also important to remember that compared to other states, bicycles are considered vehicles in New Jersey and cyclists must follow the laws governing roadways and practice safe driving.

Penalties for Riding a Manual Bicycle While Intoxicated

Biking while intoxicated may not result in DUI charges but it can still lead to significant penalties and legal consequences such as being charged with disorderly conduct. Cyclists may be subjected to up to $500 in fines and up to 30 days in jail when convicted of disorderly conduct which is a disorderly persons offense in New Jersey.

Enforcement and detection of intoxicated cycling primarily rely on the observation and judgment of law enforcement officers. If an officer suspects that a cyclist is impaired, they may conduct various field sobriety tests, such as balance and coordination assessments, to assess the individual’s level of impairment.

Additionally, law enforcement officers may consider factors such as erratic cycling behavior, excessive speed, or disregarding traffic laws as potential indicators of intoxication. It’s important to note that the absence of a motorized vehicle does not exempt cyclists from scrutiny if they are exhibiting signs of impairment.

DUI on a Motorized Bicycle

In New Jersey, operating a motorized bicycle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is subject to specific laws and penalties. There are specific qualifications that need to be considered when distinguishing a motorized bicycle, typically depending on the maximum speed the vehicle can run, and the relevant DUI laws that apply can be different depending on the vehicle. 

A motorized bicycle, also known as a moped, is a two-wheeled vehicle equipped with a motor or engine. In New Jersey, a motorized bicycle is defined as a bicycle with a maximum engine size of 50cc and a maximum speed capability of 25 miles per hour (mph). Mopeds typically have pedals for manual propulsion but can be operated solely by the motor.

E-bikes, or electric bicycles, as defined under Title 39:4-14.16, should have either two or three wheels that have fully operable pedals and an electric motor with a power output of less than 750 watts. When powered solely by the motor, the vehicle’s maximum speed, with a rider weighing 170 pounds, should be less than 20 mph when operated on a paved level surface.

These distinctions allow law enforcement to establish the boundaries on where DUI laws would apply. It is important to note that a rider driving a moped or a motorized bicycle with a max speed of higher than 20 mph can be charged with a DUI just as they would be if they were driving a car. Those riding electric bicycles with a max speed of 20 mph, or what are called low-speed electric bicycles, are not covered by the same DUI laws.

Distinction Between Motorized Bicycles and Motor Vehicles

Mopeds share some similarities with motor vehicles, such as having an engine and are required to be registered in New Jersey. Riders are also required to have either a moped license or a driver’s license to operate. 

To obtain a moped permit in New Jersey, you need to meet several requirements:

  • Age Requirement: You must be at least 15 years old to apply for a moped permit.
  • Application Process: Visit a motor vehicle agency and complete an application for a moped permit.
  • Identification: Fulfill the 6 Points of ID requirements to establish your identity. This includes providing documentation such as a birth certificate, Social Security card, and proof of address.
  • Examination Permit Fee: Pay the $5 fee for the examination permit. 
  • Knowledge and Vision Tests: Pass the knowledge and vision tests to validate your permit. New Jersey has its own Moped Manual provided by the MVC.
  • Practice Period: Practice riding with your permit for a minimum of 20 days before becoming eligible to take the road test.
  • Road Test and License Issuance: Once you pass the road test, bring your permit, ride slip, and score sheet to a motor vehicle agency to receive your moped license. A $6 license fee will be applicable.

Note: If you already possess a basic New Jersey driver’s license, you do not need a separate moped license. You can legally operate a moped using your existing driver’s license. Operating a low-speed electric bicycle does not require a license in New Jersey.

Legal Limits and Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) for Bicycles

In New Jersey, blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is a crucial factor in determining DUI charges for motor vehicle operators. The state has established specific BAC categories that outline the legal limits and corresponding charges. It’s important to note that these categories apply to motor vehicle operators, including mopeds, and not specifically to manual bicyclists. 

  • Motorists over 21: If a motor vehicle operator’s BAC is 0.08% or higher, they are considered legally intoxicated under New Jersey law. This is the standard BAC limit for adults aged 21 and over. Operating a motor vehicle with a BAC of 0.08% or higher can result in a DUI charge.
  • Commercial Driver’s License holders: For motor vehicle operators holding a commercial driver’s license (CDL), the legal BAC limit is lower at 0.04%. CDL holders operating commercial vehicles are subject to more stringent regulations due to the potential risks associated with impaired driving in these vehicles.
  • Individuals under 21: For individuals under the legal drinking age of 21, New Jersey has a zero-tolerance policy. Any detectable amount of alcohol in their system while operating a motor vehicle is considered a violation, regardless of whether it exceeds 0.08% or not.

Law enforcement officers may still consider signs of impairment, such as erratic cycling behavior, swerving, or disregarding traffic laws, as potential indicators of intoxication. While driving a manual bicycle may not result in a DUI arrest, if an officer suspects that you are riding a bicycle while impaired, they may conduct a stop and require you to refrain from driving and/or apply related charges depending on the circumstances of your case.

Category Legal BAC Limit in New Jersey Details
Motorists over 21 0.08% Any motor vehicle operator aged 21 and over with a BAC of 0.08% or higher can be charged with DUI.
Commercial Driver’s License holders 0.04% For CDL holders, the legal BAC limit is lower due to the potential risks associated with impaired driving of commercial vehicles. A BAC of 0.04% or higher can result in a DUI charge.
Individuals under 21 Zero Tolerance (any detectable alcohol) New Jersey has a zero-tolerance policy for individuals under 21. Any detectable amount of alcohol in their system can result in a DUI charge, regardless of whether it exceeds 0.08% or not.

Penalties for Motorized Bicycles

Riding a motorized bicycle or moped falling under the category stated in the manual while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is considered a serious offense in New Jersey under NJ Rev Stat § 39:4-14.3G. The same DUI laws and penalties that apply to motor vehicles also apply to motorized bicycles.

If you are caught operating a motorized bicycle while impaired, you may face the following DUI-related consequences:

  • Fines: The court will impose fines with the same gravity as DUI offenses. For a first offense, cyclists may be required to pay at least $300 up to $500 in fines when convicted of a DUI.
  • License Suspension: Depending on the severity of the offense and any prior convictions, your driving privileges may be suspended for anywhere between three months up to a year. This suspension can impact your ability to operate not only motorized bicycles but also motor vehicles in the future.
  • Ignition Interlock Device: In some cases, individuals convicted of DUI on a motorized bicycle may be required to install an ignition interlock device on their motor vehicles once their driving privileges are reinstated.
  • Mandatory Alcohol Education or Treatment Programs: The court may also mandate attendance in alcohol education or treatment programs as part of the penalty for operating a motorized bicycle while impaired.

It’s important to note that the specific penalties for DUI on a motorized bicycle can vary depending on factors such as the individual’s BAC, any prior convictions, and the circumstances of the offense. While a DUI conviction may not appear on a person’s criminal record, it is still just as important to seek the help of an experienced attorney as penalties can also vary between local jurisdictions. Getting the help of a skilled New Jersey DUI lawyer who is knowledgeable about the local statutes is crucial in getting the best possible outcome in your case.

Defending Against DUI Charges on a Bike

If you are facing DUI charges on a bike in New Jersey, it is important to understand that you have the right to mount a strong defense. When it comes to DUI charges involving bicycles, challenging the accuracy and reliability of blood alcohol concentration (BAC) test results can be an effective defense strategy. Some potential factors to consider when challenging BAC test results for bicycles include:

  • Calibration and Maintenance of Testing Equipment: It is crucial to examine whether the testing equipment used to measure BAC was properly calibrated and maintained according to the established standards. Any flaws in the calibration or maintenance process can cast doubt on the accuracy of the results.
  • Chain of Custody: Ensuring the proper chain of custody for blood or breath samples is essential. This involves documenting the handling and storage of the samples to guarantee their integrity. Any gaps or inconsistencies in the chain of custody may raise questions about the reliability of the evidence.
  • Testing Procedures: Evaluating the procedures followed during the BAC testing is vital. Any deviations from the standardized protocols or potential errors committed during the testing process can be used to challenge the validity of the results.

Contesting Field Sobriety Tests Validity for Bicyclists

Law enforcement officers commonly may use field sobriety tests (FSTs) to assess impairment in DUI cases, including those involving bicycles. However, contesting the validity of field sobriety tests for bicyclists can be a potential defense strategy. Some aspects to consider when challenging the validity of FSTs for bicyclists include:

  • Physical Limitations of Bicyclists: Bicyclists may face unique challenges when performing certain physical tasks during FSTs. The nature of balancing on a bike and the physical exertion required to operate it can affect the accuracy of FSTs designed for motor vehicle drivers. This can be used to question the relevance and reliability of the FST results.
  • Environmental Factors: Environmental conditions, such as uneven road surfaces, weather conditions, or inadequate lighting, can impact a bicyclist’s ability to perform FSTs accurately. These factors can be taken into consideration when challenging the results of FSTs conducted on bicyclists.

In addition to challenging BAC test results and contesting the validity of field sobriety tests, some other potential defenses and strategies can be employed when facing DUI charges on a bike. Some of these include:

  • Lack of Probable Cause: If the arresting officer lacked probable cause to stop or detain you, it may be possible to challenge the legality of the arrest. Any evidence obtained as a result of an unlawful stop or detention may be subject to exclusion.
  • Inaccurate Observations: Examining the officer’s observations and testimonies regarding your behavior, appearance, or performance during the traffic stop can help identify inconsistencies or inaccuracies that can be used to challenge the validity of the charges.
  • Expert Testimony: Seeking expert testimony from professionals with knowledge in the field of DUI, bicycling, or testing procedures can provide valuable insights and strengthen your defense.

It is crucial to consult with an experienced DUI defense attorney in New Jersey to evaluate the specific circumstances of your case and determine the most effective defenses and strategies available to you. A skilled attorney will help protect your rights, challenge the evidence against you, and strive to achieve the best possible outcome in your DUI case involving a bike.

Importance of Consulting with a New Jersey DUI Lawyer

Consulting with a New Jersey DUI lawyer is crucial when facing any DUI charge. An experienced lawyer can provide invaluable guidance and support throughout the legal process. A New Jersey DUI lawyer will help you evaluate your legal options and potential outcomes. They will analyze the facts of your case, consider the available evidence, and provide a realistic assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of your defense. They will explain the potential consequences you may face and discuss possible strategies to mitigate the impact of the charges.

With their experience, a DUI lawyer can help you make informed decisions about whether to negotiate a plea agreement, challenge the evidence in court, or explore alternative resolutions. They will work with you to develop a defense strategy aligned with your goals and guide you through each step of the legal process.

Seeking legal representation from a New Jersey DUI lawyer is crucial to protect your rights, navigate the legal complexities, and increase your chances of achieving the best possible outcome in your bicycle-related DUI case. Their experience, knowledge, and guidance will be invaluable in minimizing the potential consequences and safeguarding your future.

Working with a Skilled New Jersey DUI Lawyer

To ensure that your rights are protected as a cyclist, understanding New Jersey’s laws on bicycle-related DUI law is important. While riding a manually-operated bicycle while intoxicated may not fall under the category of DUI, the consequences and legal implications should not be taken lightly. Being knowledgeable about the laws specific to bicycles and the potential penalties involved can help you make informed decisions and take necessary precautions to avoid legal trouble.

Moreover, having a skilled New Jersey DUI lawyer by your side is crucial if you do find yourself facing DUI charges. A knowledgeable lawyer with experience in handling DUI cases involving bicycles can provide invaluable guidance, build a strong defense strategy, and advocate for your rights throughout the legal process. They can help you navigate the complexities of the legal system, challenge evidence when appropriate, and work towards achieving the best possible outcome for your case.

If you or someone you know is dealing with a biking under the influence charge in New Jersey, it is essential to consult with a qualified DUI lawyer as soon as possible. At The Kugel Law Firm, our team of top-rated New Jersey DUI lawyers can review the details of your case, assess your legal options, and provide personalized advice tailored to your situation.

Remember, protecting your rights, minimizing the consequences, and safeguarding your future is paramount. Don’t hesitate to seek the assistance of a skilled New Jersey DUI lawyer who can help you understand the law, fight for your best interests, and guide you through the legal process with professionalism.

Contact The Kugel Law Firm today at (973) 854-0098 and take the necessary steps to protect yourself and your future. Your peace of mind and the preservation of your rights are worth every effort.

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