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Driving A Bicycle Under The Influence: When Can You Be Charged?

Many people ride their bicycles regularly to help the environment and get exercise on their way to work. In Ontario cities, bike paths are commonly found and you can even rent a bicycle through city-wide initiatives. However, that does not mean that you can use drugs and alcohol then get on your bike to pedal home without consequence. If you are caught driving a bicycle under the influence you will be charged.

When can you be charged?
There are laws in place to protect cyclists from motorists when they share the road. In turn there are laws that cyclists must obey as well such as wearing a helmet. Even if you are obeying bicycle safety laws in Ontario, you can still be charged with driving under the influence. If you are stopped by a police officer who believes that you are riding while impaired by drugs or alcohol you can face harsh consequences such as a fine or in the most severe cases, jail time. Under the Liquor License Act, you cannot be drunk in a public place. When you are riding your bike, you are doing it outside, in a public place and public intoxication is a criminal offence in Ontario.

What would make a police officer believe you are riding your bike under the influence?
If you are swerving in and out of lanes, biking erratically and not paying attention to your surroundings, a police officer will have cause to stop you. The officer can ask you to perform a sobriety test such as a breathalyzer or a coordination assessment.

Why is biking under the influence dangerous?
Not everyone reacts to drugs and alcohol in the same way. Whether you have one beer then ride your bike or have seven, you are taking a risk. It is important to keep in mind that even though a bicycle is not powered in the same way as a car, you can still cause an accident if you bike under the influence. You can also injure someone else by biking into them or causing cars to swerve out of the way to avoid hitting you.

What rules apply to scooters, mopeds and electric bikes?
For mechanized bikes like the ones mentioned above, the same impaired driving rules apply as if you were driving a car. You can be charged for impaired driving if your caught riding a scooter, moped or e-bike under the influence.

For more information and facts about driving a bike while under the influence of drugs and alcohol, contact Toronto Defence Lawyers.

18 Dec 2015

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