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Do the DUI laws only apply to driving an automobile on a public highway?

Huntington Beach, CA |

Do the DUI laws only apply to driving an automobile on a public highway? I was on a motorized bike in Huntington Beach when a police officer pulled me over. The motor was turned off at the time so i was peddling like a normal bike. My two breath test came were both .08 so the cop arrested me for DUI.

Attorney Answers 7


  1. Driving while under the influence is generally prohibited whenever you drive any kind of vehicle. For purposes of the principal DUI statutes, a "vehicle" is defined as: "A device by which any person or property may be propelled, or drawn upon a highway, except a device moved exclusively by human power or used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks." Vehicle Code § 670. That would include all motorized vehicles. Does that mean you are safe driving a human-powered bicycle while intoxicated? Not in California. Vehicle Code section 21200 specifically states it is unlawful to ride a bike under the influence. Furthermore, California courts have interpreted the DUI laws to apply even when the driver is driving on a private road instead of a highway.


  2. It applies any public street and even some private areas open to the public. The breathalyzers aren't completely accurate so you can fight it still. Also they don't have to prove that you were operating it at the time they saw you but that you were operating it while intoxicated approximately the same time. You can get a DUI if you park your car on the side of the highway when the officer pulls up behind you.

    This is not a comprehensive answer and it is impossible to provide a meaningful response without a consultation. Call us for more information. 619.797.5456 www.mataelelaw.com


  3. No you can get DUI’s with other vehicles and does not always need to be a public highway.
    Robert Driessen

    Mr. Driessen is a former Deputy DA in Orange County with over 8 years of criminal law experience. Nothing stated on this site shall in anyway be construed as legal advice, or as creating any attorney client relationship. If you would like to hire Mr. Driessen, feel free to contact him at www.theocduiguy.com.


  4. While DUI itself is prohibited everywhere, in some jurisdictions the "implied consent" laws apply only while operating a vehicle on a public highway.

    For example, in Virginia "Implied Consent" is the term for the law that requires you to provide a breath sample to the police - if you drive on the public highways of the Commonwealth, you have thereby consented to providing a breath sample when arrested. "Public Highway" means any public road or thoroughfare, however, not just the ones the locals call "highways". In effect, that means that if you are arrested for DUI on most private property, the government can still prosecute you, but may not be able to use your breath sample as evidence.

    Consult with a local DUI attorney to ascertain your rights and best defense in this matter.


  5. Unfortunately the laws will apply to any moving vehicle. Riding mower, boat, pedal bike, moped, tractor, etc. Consult a local criminal defense attorney in your area. Best of luck.


  6. Yes. You can get a Bicycle DUI as absurd as this sounds. The reality of this is that most prosecutors hate handling these types of cases because they are so hard to win if it goes to a trial (a jury is going to be really upset if they find out they've been pulled out of work for a bike DUI). However, being in Orange County I'd expect them to be more strict. So unfortunately, yes you can get a DUI for driving a regular Bike non motorized.


  7. California law prohibits driving under the influence of alcohol and driving with a .08% BAC or higher (if 21 or over and not on DUI probation.) These laws apply not only on public roads and highways, but often on federal land, and off-road on state recreational land as well. Additionally, the laws apply not only to motorized vehicles, but to bicycles, mopeds, and scooters.

    In your particular case, the issue of whether the officer had probable cause to suspect you had violated some law before pulling you over should be addressed.

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