This is a good question because the answer is different in different states. In Florida, for example, you can get a DUI for riding your bike while intoxicated, an electric scooter, or even a wheelchair. For the purposes of DUI law, anything with the ability to move a person from point A to point B is considered a vehicle.
Nevada has a different standard, however. You cannot get a DUI for riding your bike while intoxicated, even an electric bike or an e-scooter. That does not mean that it is legal, however. If a person were to hit a pedestrian while riding on an e-scooter, that person will be in a lot of trouble, especially if they are drunk. In Florida, you can be charged with DUI, face a suspension of your license, and other administrative DMV penalties for riding your bike drunk in public.
Nevada, instead, would charge the cyclist with reckless endangerment and/or disorderly conduct. Additionally, it is likely that any injury the cyclist caused would need to be compensated. In some cases, criminal courts attach civil penalties to charges. However, the victim could also file a personal injury lawsuit against the drunk cyclist.
Is a Drunk Cyclist Liable for Injuries?
The answer is that a drunk cyclist is responsible for any injuries caused by negligence. Even if you are operating a motor vehicle drunk, you cannot be held liable for an injury or death unless you contributed negligence. While you can still be charged with DUI, if another driver causes an accident with your vehicle while you are drunk you cannot be charged with injury or death. The same holds true for a drunk cyclist.
Now, in our previous example, we had a drunk cyclist who hit a pedestrian. In that scenario, the drunk cyclist did not watch where they were going and caused injury to unsuspecting members of the public. However, we can readily imagine a scenario in which a member of the public steps out in front of a drunk cyclist and causes their own injury. In Nevada, the cyclist could not be held responsible for the injury to this pedestrian because they, in fact, were the one responsible for not looking where they were going. In Florida, the drunk cyclist could still be charged with DUI even if the pedestrian hurled themselves in front of the drunk cyclist.
We do not live in Florida, however. We live in Nevada where you are responsible for negligently causing injury to others, so be careful.
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