Articles Posted in DUI Bicycle

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When it comes to DUI offenses, many people associate them with operating cars, trucks, or SUVs while intoxicated. However, some states, like Illinois, have broader DUI laws that encompass operating any vehicle. A recent change in Oregon law highlights this point, as it reduces the penalties for operating a bicycle while intoxicated but nonetheless permits people to be charged with bicycle-related DUI crimes. If you find yourself accused of a DUI offense, consulting a reputable Illinois DUI defense attorney is crucial to understanding your rights and options.

Oregon’s DUI Law Changes

Oregon has passed legislation aimed at revising its DUI (Driving Under the Influence) laws, making distinctions between different types of vehicles. House Bill 2316 introduced several changes to Oregon’s DUI laws, broadening the scope of substances that can trigger a DUI conviction and altering diversion program eligibility. Most notably, the bill reduces fines and penalties for individuals cited for bicycling under the influence (BUI).

Previously, Oregon’s DUI law applied uniformly to both car and bicycle operators. While it’s likely that the original DUI law did not contemplate bicycling under the influence, bicycles are considered “vehicles” under Oregon statute, resulting in equal application of the law.

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It goes without saying that in Illinois you must have a valid driver’s license to drive a vehicle. As such, if your license has been suspended or revoked, you cannot operate a motor vehicle. While you cannot drive a car without a license, you can drive a low-speed electric bicycle, as it is excluded from the definition of “motor vehicle” under the Illinois Vehicle Code. Due to an increase in popularity in low-speed bicycles and the lack of statutory regulations regarding their operation, the Illinois General Assembly recently passed laws clarifying the obligations imposed on owners of low-speed bicycles.

Electric and gas low-speed bicycles are perceived differently under the eyes of the law. To be defined as a low-speed electric bicycle, the bicycle must have fully functional pedals and an electric motor that is less than 750 watts. Low speed electric bicycles are classified into three groups: Class 1, Class 2 and Class 3.

The motor in a Class 1 bicycle only provides the rider with assistance if the rider is pedaling and stops providing assistance when the bicycle reaches 20 mph. If the rider is not pedaling or the bicycle reaches 20 mph, the motor is deactivated.

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Washington State law defines “vehicle” to include bicycles. In 1995, however, the Washington Court of Appeals ruled that the state DUI statute does not include bicycles. While this case is not controlling law in Illinois, attorneys who help people charged with an Illinois DUI find its reasoning compelling.

At about 3 a.m. in June 1992, the defendant was riding his bicycle in Montesano, Washington. An officer pulled him over after watching him swerve and make wide turns. The officer testified that the defendant had slurred speech and smelled like alcohol. The officer asked him to perform field sobriety tests, several of which he failed. He was arrested for DUI. At the station, he waived his Miranda rights. A breath test indicated his blood alcohol level was .13.

Following a bench trial, he was convicted of driving while intoxicated. His motion for a new trial was denied, and he appealed.

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