CA Vehicle Code 21200.5

Cycling Under The Influence

Cycling While Drunk

Not too many people are aware that riding a bicycle while intoxicated is illegal in California, but it is. It’s referred to as a “CUI”, or Cycling Under the Influence. The impairment can be caused by either alcohol or drugs, or both, legal or illegal.

Vehicle Code Section 21200.5 states that:

“It is unlawful for any person to ride a bicycle upon a highway while under the influence of an alcoholic beverage or any drug, or under the combined influence of an alcoholic beverage and any drug.”


“Any person arrested for a violation of this section may request to have a chemical test made of the person’s blood, breath, or urine for the purpose of determining the alcoholic or drug content of that person’s blood pursuant to Section 23612, and, if so requested, the arresting officer shall have the test performed.”

So just like a DUI, the same laws apply to someone peddling a bicycle.

Penalties for Vehicle Code 21200.5

A CUI is classified as a misdemeanor. The punishment for a CUI is as follows:

  • Up to $250 fine
  • Court costs

If you are under 21, but over 13 years old, you may face additional penalties:

  • A year of suspended driving privileges; or
  • if you do not have a license, delay you from receiving one for a year

Furthermore, a criminal conviction would go on your record and would be visible to employers or anyone else conducting a criminal background check.

Prosecuting a CUI

In order to prove you are guilty of Cycling Under the Influence, the prosecution must prove all of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • You were riding a bicycle;
  • You were riding the bicycle upon a public roadway (sidewalks are included); and
  • While you were riding, you were impaired by alcohol, drugs, or both.

It’s important to note that a motorized bicycle, or moped is subject to a section relating its own “under the influence” law: California Vehicle Code 21221.5.

Defending a CUI

In a CUI case, the evidence will be based primarily on the officer’s subjective observations- the size of the pupils, the field sobriety tests, which you can disagree to take, and other very subjective and disputable observations by the officers. That’s good news for anyone charged with this crime.

Absent some objective chemical blood or breathe tests, the subjective observations of an officer will probably not be enough to convince the court by the very high BARD standard, and this means you can win your case.

For more information on defending a CUI, see our article on defending DUI, only replace “motor vehicle” with “bicycle”.

We’re Here to Help

If you’ve been arrested for Cycling Under the Influence, call us immediately to protect your rights and freedom. We are here to help!

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