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Is drinking and biking ever okay?

The D.C. Court of Appeals affirmed last week that the city's 1925 driving statute prohibits not only drunken driving, but also drunken bicycling (as well as, it turns out, intoxicated operation of "draft animals and beasts of burden"), the Legal Times reported Thursday.

The case stems from a 2007 incident that found a "yelling and screaming" Baker N. Everton on a Petworth sidewalk, struggling to mount a bicycle, according to court documents. A police officer "repeated his warning not to ride the bicycle, but appellant rode away. As he crossed Otis Place, appellant almost hit a small child who was in the crosswalk" before falling to the ground and being arrested, the court's opinion recounts. In his appeal, Everton argued he wasn't driving drunk because he wasn't driving.

But while Everton's was perhaps an extreme case, fed-up commuters and thrifty city dwellers are increasingly shedding automobiles for alternative modes of transport such as bicycles -- and that includes not just travel to work, but for shopping and fun, too. Some who live close to bars, but not close enough to walk, may assume a leisurely bicycle ride would be a good way to enjoy a couple beers at the neighborhood bar without getting behind the wheel.

However, 2008 data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (PDF) show that a significant portion of bicyclists who died on the road had alcohol in their bloodstreams; nearly a fourth had blood-alcohol levels of .08 or higher.

What do you think? E-mail us at

User poll: Should drunk bicycling be illegal?

-- Luke Rosiak

By Michael Bolden  |  April 26, 2010; 12:33 PM ET
Categories:  Biking , Transportation Politics  
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Trust me, it doesn't work.

Posted by: jckdoors | April 26, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

I fully support this. BUIs are serious problems.

Posted by: GirlThursday | April 26, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

On the one hand, it appears the defendant here was pretty wrecked, to the point of barely being vertical, much less be able to rid a bike. Don't we have "drunk in public" laws any more?

Obviously, you can hurt someone riding a bike (or riding a horse for that matter), but big difference is that you are way more likely to hurt yourself than if you are driving. A drunken biker might very well hit a car. Typically, those situations go poorly for bikers. So, let's just suggest repeat offenders may be limited by the fragility of the human body.

Posted by: oldtimehockey | April 26, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

A drunken rider is more likely to hit a pedestrian than a sober rider.

Side note: I knew a guy in Utah who was busted for DUI on a horse a few years back.

Posted by: wiredog | April 26, 2010 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Or better yet Prohibition! We can't have anyone drunk while running with scissors(RUIWS) then running into someone and injuring them...think of the children!!
This is proof that government stops at nothing to micromanage every aspect of human life. It sure must cost a fortune in both dollars and people's liberties. The unwitting sheep continually clamor, "there oughta be a law..."

Posted by: jhope432 | April 26, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

A drunken bicyclist is a danger to more than just herself.

What happens when she makes a dangerous move due to her impaired judgment, which requires a driver to slam on his brakes, which results in a 5-car pileup?

DC law is correct on this issue, and I'm glad Everton got a DUI on his bike.

Posted by: afsljafweljkjlfe | April 26, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Doesn't this fall under disorderly conduct, or drunk in public laws?-the law should be that a drunkerd-cyclist has to pay for the inevitable, when the ambulance crew has to scrape them off the pavement.

Posted by: Hattrik | April 26, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

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