If you are arrested for operating a motor vehicle while impaired (DWI) in Minnesota, a conviction could bring about some steep consequences. But can you get a DWI on a bicycle in Minnesota? Believe it or not, some states treat bicycles the same as cars or trucks when it comes to drunken driving offenses.
Thankfully for some cyclists, state DWI law does not apply to anyone operating a bicycle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. That does not mean you can ride a bicycle on a public street while intoxicated without any potential consequences. If you face an arrest for an alcohol-related incident, let a Minneapolis DWI defense lawyer at Gerald Miller assist you in developing a winning defense.
The Definition of a Vehicle in DWI Cases
While DWI offenses can involve a wide range of fact patterns, a prosecutor must establish certain elements in any of these cases in order to obtain a conviction. In addition to establishing that a defendant in a DWI was intoxicated, the state must also show that they were operating or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle. It is the definition of a motor vehicle under state law that excludes a cyclist from possible DWI charges.
The definition of “motor vehicle” is found at Minnesota Statutes Section 169A.03. According to the statute, the term is defined as:
“Motor vehicle” means every vehicle that is self-propelled and every vehicle that is propelled by electric power obtained from overhead trolley wires. The term includes motorboats in operation and off-road recreational vehicles, but does not include a vehicle moved solely by human power.
Why a Bicycle Does Not Qualify as a Motor Vehicle
The statute was written in an effort to apply to more than just passenger vehicles or commercial trucks. It includes everything from trolley cars to motorboats as long as they are self-propelled or in some way powered through electricity. That said, the statute clearly states that any vehicle that moves entirely by human power does not qualify as a motor vehicle under the DWI statute. This includes not only bicycles but also modes of transportation like rowboats or skateboards as well.
Likewise, the statute does not apply to the rider of a horse. While the statute does not mention horses specifically, there is little doubt that a horse does not qualify as an electricity-powered vehicle. It should also be noted that it is possible to modify scooters or bicycles to include some form of motor. If a bicycle is motorized in any way, a DWI charge could be appropriate. This is the case even if the bicycle primarily relies on human power.
Other Criminal Consequences Involving an Intoxicated Bicycle Ride
For anyone arrested while riding a bicycle under the influence of drugs or alcohol, a charge of DWI might not stick. That does not mean you will entirely avoid an arrest or conviction of a criminal offense. One way the police could make an arrest other than a DWI charge is on the offense of impeding traffic. This charge is especially common if a cyclist is stopped while on a busy highway or interstate.
While public drunkenness is not a crime in Minnesota, there are many other alcohol-related offenses that could apply depending on the circumstances. If a drunken cyclist injures someone or damages property, they could face charges of assault or damage to property.
Disorderly Conduct for Being Intoxicated on a Bicycle in MN
Likely the most common option in this a situation involving an intoxicated cyclist would be an arrest for disorderly conduct. Disorderly conduct is a broad offense that can cover a wide range of behavior, including causing a disturbance in public.
Often, the primary goal of the police will be to first remove a person from the street. For that reason, they might make an arrest even if they are unlikely to obtain a conviction.
Talk to an Minneapolis DWI Defense Lawyer About Your Charges Right Away
If you’re asking can you get a DWI on a bicycle in Minnesota, the answer is technically No. Instead of a DWI, there are still a number of serious criminal offenses the state could bring if you operated a bicycle on a public roadway while impaired. The attorneys of Gerald Miller have a long history of defending alcohol-related allegations and are ready to get to work on your defense. Call as soon as possible to schedule your free consultation.