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Is It Illegal To Ride A Bicycle When Drunk?

In a series of short blogs about cycling this time we find out from Slater and Gordon Lawyer Richard Gaffney what the rules are about having a drink and then getting on your bicycle.

So Richard, is it Illegal to Drink and Ride your Bike?

The best advice I can give is not to drink alcohol if you intend to cycle. If you do drink then there is a good chance you will be committing a criminal offence.

It is illegal to ride your bike under the influence of drink or drugs, and you would be guilty of this if you were unfit to ride to such an extent as you are incapable of having proper control of the bicycle.

You would be committing an offence whether you were on a footpath or on the road.

Although it is an offence to cycle under the influence of alcohol, a police officer cannot force you to provide a breath, blood or urine sample. They can ask, but if you refuse and subsequently charged with cycling under the influence, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) wouldn’t be allowed to use your refusal as evidence against you.

But what if it’s not Proven that I’ve been Drinking and Riding my Bicycle?

Even if Magistrates aren’t convinced you were under the influence whilst on your bike, if you have been riding in a dangerous, careless or inconsiderate way then you run the risk of being convicted under one of these separate offences.

So if, for example, you cycled through a red light and were stopped by the police who suspected you were under the influence they could charge you with careless or inconsiderate cycling AND cycling under the influence. The Magistrates could then find you guilty of the careless and inconsiderate cycling charge but not the cycling whilst under the influence.

But remember, if you “jump” a red light you risk a Fixed Penalty Notice of £50 no matter what. It is illegal for any road user not to comply with the Road Traffic Act 1998.

So what would be the Punishment for Cycling Under the Influence?

The maximum penalty for cycling whilst under the influence of drink or drugs is a £1,000 fine. This is also the case for careless or inconsiderate cycling. The maximum penalty for dangerous cycling is a £2,500 fine.

You wouldn’t, however, get any points on your driving license should you have one, as it isn’t a driving offence.

Cycling under the influence of alcohol is never a good idea. It affects reaction times, causes inhibitions to disappear and can render you incapable of controlling a bicycle. Recent research has shown that intoxicated cyclists are 10 times more at risk of being injured in a cycling accident than sober cyclists.

Richard Gaffney is Slater and Gordon’s principal lawyer for Cycling UK (previously CTC), the national cycling charity.

For a free consultation call us 24/7 on freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online and we’ll be happy to help you.

We help cyclists injured in cycling accidents through no fault of their own to get compensation and rehabilitation support. Our Solicitors represent cyclists from across the UK including members of the CTC.

Slater and Gordon Lawyers have secured £44 million in compensation for CTC Members injured in cycling accidents since 2002, recovering over £2,900,000 in compensation for CTC members in 2013 alone.

We offer home/hospital visits for people with severe injuries who cannot visit one of our offices in Slater and Gordon Lawyers is one of the UK's largest and well known law firms with offices in London, Manchester, Watford, Liverpool, Birmingham, Sheffield, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Cambridge and Preston.

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